Often times recently I've noticed among myself, friends and members here, that we have expectations that may not align with reality going into a game. Take for example the Chiefs game, many members were expecting the Chiefs game at Arrowhead to be a blowout, but anyone whose looked at the fact would see that Arrowhead is considered one of the hardest places to play, even if the Chiefs suck, they fight hard at home.
Now there aren't predictions I'll be making, rather looking at expectations and seeing how they lineup with history. I'm hoping to do this weekly.
I will say last week I was mistaken about the run game, the backs really proved me wrong.
Don't Be Surprised If... The Broncos Run It As Often As They Throw It
While the Raiders have a decent defense, teams are actually running on them almost as often as they are passing (412 pass plays to 336 rush plays, one of the most balanced in the NFL). Now with the Raiders defensive line being fairly weak, outside of a still talented, but injured, Richard Seymour, Lamarr Houston and Desmond Bryant, that means that we should look for the Broncos to attack the Raiders on the ground early and often. Don't forget to note that opposing running backs are averaging 4.7 yards per attempt, tied for the 6th worst run defense in the league.
Also something to keep in mind, and a topic no one wants to discuss, is Peyton Manning's arm. Manning is on track for 596 attempts on the season, the 2nd highest total of his career. Add in his shoulder is still likely not back at 100%, and I'm sure he and Fox are discussing ways to keep that arm fresh, especially if the Broncos are going to make a run at the Super Bowl.
Between a terrible run defense and the desire to keep an aging quarterback fresh, you have the combination for a game where the Broncos could see Moreno top 100 yards and Hillman get the most snaps of his rookie season.
Don't Be Surprised If... Carson Palmer Puts Up 350+ Yards
No matter what you say about Palmer's time in Oakland (that it's been horrible and they overpaid for him), no one can deny he moves the ball. Palmer has posted his two best seasons in terms of total yards and yards per attempt since arriving in Oakland. Now I do expect the Broncos to hold Palmer and the Raiders to 20 points or under (they haven't top 20 in four weeks), but look for Palmer to move them into the red zone A LOT, now that just means SeaBass will get a lot of work, but the Raiders will rack up the yards.
This season Palmer is averaging 294 yards per game, that's good for 7th in the NFL. Now don't expect a lot of touchdowns, but Palmer is going to be slinging it and our corners make look like fools on more than a few plays.
Don't Be Surprised If... The Broncos Don't Go Deep
Broncos haven't gone deep much anyways this season, only 11.9% of Manning's passes are for 20 or more yards, that 14th overall in the NFL, but I expect that to be even lower this game. The biggest reason for this is because two of the Raiders best players are their safeties, Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff. Now Huff has been playing more corner this season but largely in zone coverage so he acts like a 3rd safety at times. Between them they have 14 deflected passes and 3 interceptions, both higher than their Broncos counterparts.
While the Raiders do have a weak group of corners, going deep into that Raiders safety group doesn't end as well. So while I have no worries about the Broncos passing game this week, I don't expect Peyton to go deep a lot, relatively of cource.
... But Still Make Big Plays
Having said that, I do expect the Broncos to have a high number of run plays that go over 10 yards and pass plays over 20 yards. The reason for this is the Raiders have an issue with missing tackles. Currently the Raiders have 86 missed tackles, one of the worst in the league, and compared to the 50 missed tackles by the Broncos, and you've seen what can happen.
Knowing this, the Broncos (like most past Raider's opponents) are going to use a lot of slants and screens to maximize the speed of guys like Demaryius Thomas, Andre Caldwell (since Matthew Willis is hobbled), and the running backs. These types of plays have had big success against the Raiders this season and considering the Broncos have already had success this season with these types of plays, I'm expecting a lot of throws into the open field, on the run passes that will allow fast players to make plays.
So while the Raiders have the ability to shut down the deep passes, that doesn't mean the Broncos won't break big plays, both in the run and pass game.
As I said, these aren't locks, rather when we look at the history these are the conclusions we can draw. Reasonable expectations are important, that way we won't as easily be surprised, either for good or bad