Last week the Broncos headed east to take on Peyton's little Brother Eli Manning, and the New York Giants in the "Manning Bowl". The Broncos moved to 2-0 after defeating the Giants 41-23. This week the Broncos host their division rival the Oakland Raiders In a Monday Night showdown. Lets take a look at five things to keep an eye on while you watch the game.
1. Replacing Clady:
Unfortunately the Broncos lost their All-Pro Left Tackle Ryan Clady for the season after last weeks win. It will be up to backup Chris Clark to step up and protect Manning's blind side. It will be interesting to see how Clark performs Monday night. It will also be interesting to see if the coaches decide to slide a Tight End or Running back over to help out Clark if needed. While losing Clady sucks, I'm not too concerned just yet. Peyton Manning gets rid of the ball very quickly, and has made below average tackles look good. He did it in Indy with Charlie Johnson.
The man who Clark will see all night is Lamarr Houston. On the year Houston only has one sack. Look for the Raiders to bring pressure from that side to try to confuse Clark as well. I'm hoping to see Clark step up and have a solid all around game Monday night. If he struggles, and Manning starts getting hit, it will be time to panic, and possibly time to shuffle the offensive line some.
2. Start Fast On Offense, Make Pryor Throw:
For some reason the Broncos under Peyton Manning never start off fast. This was the case as well last season as well. Through the first two games the Broncos have scored 24 first half points. That averages out to be 12 points at halftime. The Broncos have scored 66 second half points through two games. That averages out to be 33 second half points a game. Imagine if they played a complete 60 minute game.
The Oakland Raiders are second In the NFL in rushing, and 29th in passing. If the Broncos can go up early, and force the Raiders to abandon their run game, and force Pryor to throw the ball, I like the Broncos chances.
3. Contain Pryors big runs, Force Turn Overs:
Terrelle Pryor has been dangerous when he uses his legs. On the year Pryor has rushed the ball 22 times for 162 yards. That's an impressive 7.4 yards per carry. The Broncos defense who Is first in the league in run defense cannot allow that. This will be the Broncos defense first test against these running quarterbacks this season. It will be interesting to see how Fox and Del Rio plan to stop this. If the defense struggles against Pryor, it could spell trouble down the road. The Broncos face Vick, RG3, Andrew Luck, and Alex Smith this season.
The Broncos defense thus far has been creating plenty of turnovers. They have intercepted 6 passes, and caused 3 fumbles after 2 games this season. Winning the turnover battle usually means you come away with a victory. The Broncos are currently +3 in the Turnover Ratio. Terrelle Pryor is prone to mistakes, so this defense must be licking its chops.
4. Keep The Running Game Going:
Last week Knowshon Moreno broke out In a big way against the Giants. Moreno rushed the ball 13 times for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns. Moreno averaged an impressive 7.2 yards per carry last week. If the Broncos can establish the run throughout the season it could spell trouble for the rest of the NFL.
Oakland has been stout against the run. They rank 9th in the league, and have been giving up 80.5 yards per game on the ground. These stats are a bit skewed since the Raiders faced the Colts, and Jaguars the first two weeks. Look for the Broncos to try to establish the run game against the Raiders defense.
5. Stay Undefeated In The Division!
Last season the Broncos went 6-0 against the Raiders, Chargers, and Chiefs. They look to extend their AFC West winning streak to seven. Two undefeated seasons against your division rivals would be pretty sweet!