The Denver Broncos clinched the AFC West for the 2nd year in a row last week, and look to continue their dominance of the AFC West in a Thursday night matchup with rival Oakland Raiders.
QB: Carson Palmer
RB: Darren McFadden
FB: Marcel Reese
TE: Brandon Myers
Oakland Raider Offensive Rankings:
Denver Broncos Offensive Rankings:
Carson Palmer is actually having a decent year. On the year Palmer has 3532 yards passing, 20 TD's and 13 Ints. Palmer is completing 60.6% of his passes and has a QB rating of 84.4. In the Broncos and Raiders first matchup, the Broncos held Palmer to 202 yards passing, 0 TD's and 0 Ints. The Broncos pass rush needs to disrupt, and the Broncos secondary needs to stop the deep passes from Palmer. Champ Bailey and Chris Harris have been playing great football this season, look for it to continue this week.
Peyton will look to continue to add to the Broncos franchise record of touchdowns in a season. The previous record was 27, Manning has 29 with 4 games to go. On the year Peyton Manning has 3502 yards passing, 29 TD's, and only 9 Ints. Manning is completing a solid 68% of his passes, and has a QB rating of 104.6. Oaklands defense has been allowing alot of yards and points this season, so look for Manning to pick apart this defense. Last time Manning played the Raiders he went 30/38, 338 yards, 3 TD's and 0 Ints. Manning is coming off short rest, so maybe hold off on the lofty expectations.
The Running Backs
The Raiders running game has been a disappointment this year. Their was lofty expectations for Darren McFadden this year(If you own him in fantasy, you understand) and he's been a huge bust. Like most year McFadden has been on the shelf. He is expected to come back this week though. On the year McFadden has 455 yards rushing, and he's averaging a disappointing 3.3 YPC. A guy who could be a problem for the Broncos defense is RB/FB/Do it all guy Marcel Reese. Reese has 261 yards on the ground and is averaging 4.7 YPC. Reese also has 46 catches for 467 yards. So look for the Raiders to get him in the ball as much as possible. The Broncos held the Bucs vaunted rush attack in check last week, so i expect them to hold the Raiders run game in check.
Welcome back Knowshon Moreno! Moreno has been putting up solid numbers in his two starts since replacing the injured Willis McGahee. I'm not getting too excited(yet) but it's promising to see Moreno do well and running hard. On the year Moreno has 169 yards rushing and is averaging 3.5 YPC. Rookie Ronnie Hillman had a solid game last week too, on the year Hillman has 226 yards rushing and is averaging 4.0 YPC. The Raiders have a very leaky defense, so look for the Broncos to try to get their running game going against the Raiders. Manning said earlier this week that tuesdays practice, the coaches emphasized the rush offense, so we'll see if that transitions into Thursday nights game.
The Receivers/Tight Ends:
Leading the team in receptions is Tight End Brandon Myers. Myers has been an issue for defenses all year. On the year Myers has 69 catches for 721 yards and 4 TDs. Myers has been a favorite of Palmer. The next receiver is Denarius Moore who has 38 catches for 635 yards. After Moore it's Darrius Heyward-Bey with 32 for 480, and rookie receiver Rod Streater has 24 catches for 329 yards. If the Broncos can contain Myers, i like our secondary chances against these WR's. Look for Palmer to go deep a few times though. One thing this group has is speed. So if any of these guys can take it to the house anytime they have the ball in their hands. Our defense has to be solid again.
Demaryius Thomas is heading to Hawaii(well he won't be there, he'll be preparing for the Super Bowl) but he will earning his first Pro Bowl invite this year. On the year DT has 69 catches for 1114 yards and 8 TD's. DT is turning into the WR we all hoped he could be. Eric Decker has had a few quiet weeks in a row, i look for that to change tonight. On the year Decker has 56 catches for 702 yards and 8 TD's. The old guy Brandon Stokley is having a solid year as well. Stokes has 36 catches for 449 yards and 5 TDs. Stokley might not be able to go this week, and Matthew Willis is hobbled, so we may see Andre Caldwell tonight. Jacob Tamme is having a solid year. On the year Tamme has 47 catches for 449 yards and 2 TDs, while Joel Dreessen has 29 for 253 and 4 TDs. If Manning decides to air it out, look for all these guys to get their catches. I'm looking for DT to have another solid game
Oaklands OL ranks 14 in the league. Oaklands offensive line has allowed 25 sacks and 58 QB hits. Behind Oaklands OL, rushers have averaged 3.8 YPC. Overall this seems like a pretty average unit. Last time these two faced each others the Broncos sacked Palmer 3 times. Look for VonDoom to get after Palmer early and often.
The Broncos OL ranks 3rd in the league. Denvers Offensive line has allowed 16 sacks and a league low 34 QB hits. Behind Denvers OL, Broncos rushers have averaged 3.8 YPC. It might be the Peyton Manning effect, or maybe these guys are blocking real well, but they have kept Manning pretty safe this year. These guys need to do better in run blocking though.