The Denver Broncos are visiting the Oakland Raiders this week at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. The 4-3 Raiders are coming off their Bye week after being shut out by the Kansas City Chiefs 28-0 in Week 7. The 2-5 Broncos are trying to regroup after a 45-10 shellacking at the hands of the Detroit Lions on their home turf. Denver would also like to avenge the 23-20 Week 1 loss that Oakland stole at Mile High. Eight weeks have passed and there have been personnel changes to both teams since that Monday Night game. With that in mind, let's look at this matchup.
The weather forecast is predicting a muddy game on Sunday. Here is the current report at post time.
Oakland's starting quarterback in the first game between these two teams was Jason Campbell, but he suffered a broken collarbone Week 6 against Cleveland. Two days later, the Raiders traded the house and garage to pry Carson Palmer away from the Cincinnati Bengals and he will be their starting quarterback this week. Oakland also picked up Linebacker Aaron Curry, Wide Receiver TJ Houshmandzadeh and Cornerback Lito Sheppard recently, to bolster a team hit by injuries. WR Derrick Jones (Achilles), S Hiram Eugene (Dislocated hip), LB Travis Goethel (Knee), OG Alan Pelc, RB James McCluskey, LB Ricky Brown (Concussion) and DE Matt Shaughnessy (Shoulder) have all been lost to Injured Reserve for the season. Couple that with starting Running Back Darren McFadden likely being held out this week and we may have an interesting game.
For that matter, the Broncos have changed some things as well. Kyle Orton is no longer the starting quarterback. Tim Tebow now leads the team. Willis McGahee has a broken bone in his hand, which may create a problem holding on to the ball if he successfully lobbies for playing time. If he doesn't play, Knowshon Moreno, Lance Ball and Tebow will carry the ball.
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This will be Carson Palmer's second game with the Raiders and he says he's comfortable. So far, he has thrown 3 interceptions and no touchdowns, but his career completion rate is 62.8, so he shouldn't be shutout much longer. With leading rusher Darren McFadden looking like a no-show this week, Michael Bush (237 yds, 4.0 avg, 3 TDs and 9 catches for 111 yds) will get most of the workload. He had a 99 yard day last week against the Chiefs. Expect rookie speedster Taiwan Jones to get some touches as well, as he and Bush have been splitting carries in practice.
At Receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey (27 catches, 434 yds, 1 TD) leads Oakland. Denarius Moore (14 Rec, 212 yds, 2 TDs) is the #2 guy. Chaz Schilens (7 Rec, 65 yds, 1 TD), who returns from a groin injury and Jacoby Ford (11 Rec, 114 yds) are the other Wide outs. Don't forget about TJ Houshmandzadeh either. Carson Palmer has a rapport with him from Cincinnati. Tight End Kevin Boss (8 Rec, 161 yds, 1 TD) returns from a concussion this week, putting Brandon Meyers (6 Rec, 38 yds) back on the bench.
The Offensive Line shouldn't change much. Center Samson Satele has been limited with a knee injury and if he can't go, rookie Stefan Wisniewski will slide over from his Left Guard spot and Bruce Campbell will take Wisniewski's place. LT Jared Veldheer, RG Cooper Carlisle and RT Khalif Barnes round up this group.
Oakland has a very good running game, although it isn't quite the same without McFadden.
|16-93 yds||T-18th||Sacks||24th||22-134 yds|
|68-600 yds||1st||Penalties||T-30th||35-323 yds|
The Raiders employ a 4-3 Base look on Defense, with LDE Lamarr Houston (19 TKL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 1 FR), LDT Richard Seymour (20 TKL, 5 SK), RDT Tommy Kelly (21 TKL, 2.5 SK, 1 FR) and RDE Matt Shaughnessy (7 TKL, 1 SK) at the Line. At Linebacker, Quentin Groves (21 TKL, 1 FR) is the SAM and Kamerion Wimbley (24 TKL, 1 SK) is the WILL. At the MIKE position, Rolando McClain (43 TKL, 1 SK) is nursing an Ankle injury. If he cannot go, Darryl Blackstock, who made 6 of his 10 Tackles against Kansas City last week, is the next man up.
Starting LCB Chimdi Chekwa is out, so newly acquired Lito Sheppard will likely take his spot. Rookie DeMarcus Van Dyke (11 TKL, 1 INT) may get some playing time as well. Stanford Routt (24 TKL, 1 INT) patrols the right side. At Free Safety, Michael Huff (20 TKL, 1 INT) has been hobbled by a sore Ankle and Matt Giordano (26 TKL, 1 SK, 1 INT, 1 FR) is coming off a Neck injury. My guess is that Giordano starts and gets the gist of the work, as Huff has been limited in practice this week. The Strong Safety is the Raiders leading Tackler Tyvon Branch (56 TKL, 1 INT, 1 FR).
The Raiders are beat up in their back 7 and the Broncos should try to take advantage of that.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski is fighting a bad left Hamstring and hasn't participated in practice this week, but the Raiders waived Dave Rayner a week ago, so Sea-Bass will most likely play. He is 12/13 on the season, a 92.3% success rate. Bronco fans witnessed his record-tying 63-yard Field Goal on Monday Night in the opening week. Janikowski has made all 16 Extra Point Attempts. His kickoffs land at the 5-yard line on average and he has 19 touchbacks in 34 Kickoffs. 14 have been returned an average of 22.5 yards.
Punter Shane Lechler, who is also the Holder on Field Goal Attempts, has punted 34 times for an average of 52.2 yards (1st), a net of 40.3 (9th) with 4 touchbacks, 5 Fair Catches and 10 Inside the 20. His longest of the year is a 77-yarder. 21 of Lechler's punts have been returned an average of 15.5 yards and 1 touchdown.
Jon Condo is a 6th year veteran who has handled all the long-snapping duties for Oakland the last four seasons. He earned his first Pro Bowl selection following 2009 season. Condo has 2 Tackles this season.
Oakland's Punt Returner is Denarius Moore, who has returned 14 punts for a 7.1 yard average and a long of 21 yards. Moore has made 4 Fair Catches.
The Special Teams Units matchup well between Oakland and the Broncos. The differences I see is the edge in Field Goal Kicking goes to the Raiders at the moment, but the Broncos have better coverage and return Units.
Denver has a 41-59-2 record against Oakland and they are 11-6 in Oakland since the Raiders returned to Northern California. The Raiders hold a 6-4 lead over the last 10 meetings, including a narrow 23-20 victory in the opening game of this season. Oakland has prevailed in the last 4 games against the Broncos. Last year the Broncos lost at Oakland 39-23 on December 19, 2010. The last time Denver won in Oakland was a 23-3 victory on September 27, 2009.
In their Week 1 matchup this year, the Broncos had difficulty running the ball, racking up a meager 38 yards on the ground. Kyle Orton threw for 304 yards and if not for the 3 Turnovers, Denver could have claimed victory. Now it's up to Tim Tebow to figure out how to effectively use his receivers to take advantage of a weak Oakland secondary. The Raider Defensive Line will have plenty to say, since they are stout against the run.
Even with Darren McFadden out, Michael Bush can still bring it. Carson Palmer and TJ Houshmandzadeh have a past chemistry to draw from and the big Receiver has been a big Red Zone target in the past. The Broncos need to muster some kind of running game to help keep the Raider Defense on it's heels and give Tebow a chance to find his receivers. Getting the ball wide on quick outs, swing passes and tosses will force make Oakland's Linebackers to make plays instead of the Line. The Broncos need to start converting on 3rd Down as well. If they can't, it will be a quiet flight back to Denver.