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Broncos at Raiders: The No Bull Preview

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We head into the black hole for a division game against he Oakland Raiders this week. Here's how I see the match-ups and what to look for in the game.

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Overview

This is a game that as a division leader with a dominant defense you are expected to win. We'd all like to see a 40-10 drubbing, but I don't think that is in the cards. The Raiders are getting better (excuse my while I go puke). They have a up-and-coming QB and some really talented weapons on both sides of the ball. It isn't going to be a cake-walk ladies and gents.

Broncos Offense vs Raiders Defense

I give the edge in the run to the Raiders, but I do think the pass game will go our way. The Raiders have talent, but not everywhere, and I like Peyton to find some matchups he likes to give us the edge there.

In the trenches

The big worry here is Khalil Mack. He's a very talented pass rusher. They also have Justin Tuck and Aldon Smith who are no pushovers and are helping get hurries for their defense. I'd like to see our offense scheme some help on Khalil because if we can do that, it should give Peyton enough time to get the ball out successfully.

Their line is stingy against the run as well. Our work-in-progress line has its work cut out for it.

The running game

The downside here is that I don't expect a lot of holes inside to be opened up. Oakland is very stout there. What our team does have a shot at are some big plays if the backs can get in space. Oakland gives up a lot of missed tackles and we could see some really impactful plays because of it.

The passing game

As I mentioned in the trenches, we need to be worried about their pass rush. The pass defense though has some holes in it. If we can isolate Curtis Lofton with our slot or RB in the passing game, we should be able to get some consistent positive plays.

I also like DT on DJ Hayden if we can get that matchup to happen. DT is way too big for Hayden to handle. Charles Woodson may be getting up there in age, but he's still a great FS and hopefully Manning tries to go away from him in the passing game, because he still has the goods.

Broncos Defense vs Raiders Offense

This in every way goes to our defense. We're better than their passing game. We're better than their running game. Carr may be starting to figure it out, but this defense is on a whole different level than he's used to dealing with.

In the trenches

Here is one place that the Raiders have some very good talent. They have some surprisingly good linemen and may cause our front-7 more trouble than you might think. The reason I still give the edge to Denver though is that we can come from anywhere. We can and should out-scheme them and take away what is working for them.

Donald Penn especially is a very awesome LT. Watching him go against DeMarcus Ware should be a treat for anyone who likes to watch the game in the trenches. These are two wily vets who have seen it all and will be trying to out-maneuver each other.

Also on that side is Gabe Jackson who has to be one of the best guards in the league. He will be giving Malik Jackson everything Malik can handle. Look for a lot of runs to the left side behind these two guys.

The running game

Oakland has a decent enough run game and averages 4.4 yards per carry. I like our defense against them though. If we can keep AP bottled up, we should be able to handle whatever Oakland throws our way.

I'll be watching for an impact from Derek Wolfe here. He's a great run defender and may actually be an upgrade to what we've seen so far from our defense in the first four weeks.

The passing game

The big thing to me here is how much time will Derek Carr have to throw the ball? If the line can block for him, he is able to go downfield to a couple of VERY talented WRs in order to make plays. Amari Cooper is as good as advertised and will be a handful for whoever has his assignment (I'm betting we see Talib on him mostly). They also have Michael Crabtree who I like being covered by either CHJ or Roby.

Special Teams

These units look like a wash to me. Their punter is good, their kicker is very good. I give us a slightly better punter, but the kicking thus far for McManus has been every bit as good as Janikowski.

Conclusion

I'm probably over-looking Oakland and one day I'll regret it. I don't believe today is that day, though. Even if our offense stumbles, I don't see their offense doing much against the Orange Surge defense.  We are away and that makes the game tougher on Manning and the offense. Look for a close game this week in Oak-town.

Meaningless prediction: Denver 24, Oakland 17