After an abset lockout that fortunately didn't stop the draft, which ours was a very good one filling some needs with very talented players; followed by an uncommun free agency period (only happening after the draft), where we did some interesting moves too; passing out on a well played preseason where we could watch our roster in real action and define our 53 warriors; here we are for the season opener...
I don't know about you folks, but I feel very excited about the fact that we open the season against our biggest rival on the Monday Night Football. They are the franchise I dislike the most, and this way we have the chance to beat them in revenge for the last year. As this is a MNF game, the entire world will be watching this rivalry game! So, with this post I'll try to point the offense and defense key match-ups of the game for the Broncos to do what we expect: win. Follow me after the jump and let's think on it together.
Let's take a look on the Raiders' defense units and how they played the preseason. Their secondary missed a lot (of course) the lose of Nnamdi Asomugha. They were used to have one side of the field locked and now it's opened again. Their corp of LBs brings two good names on Rolando McClain and Kamerion Wimbley (both are first round picks), accompanied with Quentin Groves who is a below average LB playing the weakside. So it's easy to realize that their stronggest link is their defensive line.
With great names here, I think the strong side of the line is the right one with Houston as the end and Seymour as the tackle. So if our left side of the offensive line can hold them for enough time for Orton to throw, we'll put them into a big trouble. Our WRs and TEs move very fast and have very nice hands to catch the ball all over the field. Besides those two first rounders are good LBs, they don't excel when dropping into coverage.
We all know Kyle Orton is an accurate QB, who has great reads and can throw nice passes. With this lack in coverage of their LBs, and their below average secondary, this is a very nice path to score a lot of touchdowns. Eric Decker and Julius Thomas have a huge ability to catch in the middle of the field, and with Kyle having the enough time to check down them, he'll find at least one of them wide open almost every single down.
My conclusion: Ryan Clady is showing that he is returning to play at a Pro Bowl level again. Zane Beadles is a young player who will receive some double team helps of JD Walton to hold this side of their defense live. So I think we have a little advantage here and we are likely to win this match-up.
Now it's time to take a look on their offense. The Raiders don't have a good passing game. Zach Miller was a big target for Jason Campbell, but he is no longer in Oakland. The replacement is another very talented TE: Kevin Boss. Fortunately, he is recovering from an injury and it's very unlike for him to play this Monday Night. Their offensive line struggle a lot to protect the passer and keep a good pocket around him.
Knowing they are not that good when passing, they are supposed to run. Yes, and they have a solid rushing game. Besides their offensive line struggle to protect the passer, they are a talented unit to open some holes to a great duo of RBs. They run this 1-2 punch very effectively.
So Bunkley, as our best run stuffing DT imo, is the player who can help us the most to stop it by closing his gaps. Of course this is not a one-player-job, but an entire team one... but for me, the most important part here is theirs. I'm glad he could recover fast from his injury and will be on the field tonight.
If we can stop their 1-2 punch running game, we'll cause them a big trouble. They will start trying to make more passes and we all know the punishment: Von... Doom... POW! Even when our elite pass rushing guys don't reach their passer, Campbell will be forced to make some hurried throws... and then we know the other punishment: Champ Bailey + Rahim Moore and their interceptions.
My conclusion: Brodrick Bunkley and our new defensive scheme showed a huge improvement stuffing the runs. On the other hand, the Raiders' rushing game is very strong. So I consider it a tie. They won't be able to run how they want, and neither us to stop it how we want. Fortunately, the more they balance beetwen passing/rushing, the more it benefits us... the most they throw, the most we are in advantage.
With all this pointed, I think we have a huge chance to win this game and open our season properly as we deserve. And you fellas, what do you think are the offense and defense key match-ups for us to beat the Raiders?