The fourth quarter of the regular season begins this weekend, and the Broncos have their second matchup with a hated rival that hasn't been much of a contest of late. But despite an improved Raiders team, our Ultimate Fan - whose future father-in-law loves the Raiders - believes his fiancé's dad is going to be one depressed man on Sunday afternoon (hopefully this has no impact on our guy's relationship with his future in-laws!)
But for lancing_2009, being a Broncos fan has literally saved his life, so read on to find out how - and to see why he knows the Broncos will be 11-2 in just a few days.
Denver v. Oakland, Take 2
MHR - First, what are three overall impressions of the Broncos right now as the team begins the final quarter of the season?
lancing_2009: Three big impressions thus far would have to be youth, depth and tenacity. While we have a solid veteran presence with players like Peyton Manning and DeMarcus Ware, our core of players are younger guys. The majority of our starters have plenty of time left in their respective careers, and our backups are young and extremely effective. This ties into my second impression well. Our backups (see Shane Ray, Shaq Barrett and Max Garcia) have stepped in and played very well for rookies, and second-year corner Bradley Roby is among the best nickel DBs in the game. David Bruton, Jr., and Omar Bolden have filled in nicely for an injured T.J. Ward, and Darius Kilgo played well in the absence of Sly Williams.
And finally, this team has what John Elway has wanted from our squad since John Fox was fired. We are very tenacious and relentless, especially on the defensive side of the ball. #Kickingandscreaming is in full effect. Down 14 in the fourth quarter against the undefeated defending World Cheaters (whoops... meant champs. Freudian slip?) No problem. Our defense came up with big stops and Brock slings us to a leading TD, followed by "The Run." Getting hosed by 8 penalties and 114 yards compared to 0 and 0 against the Bears? Defense steps up and gets a key stop on a two-point conversion to win the game. Even when everything goes against us, we find a way to pull it out.
MHR - The win in San Diego was interesting because it wasn't flashy but was extremely effective - defense kept the game out of reach, offense did what it had to do, running game stayed patient, Brockweiler managed the game. Is this the formula for a successful Super Bowl run?
lancing_2009: Absolutely it is. As fun as it is to watch a QB throw for 350 yards and 4 TDs, you don't have to do that on an every-game basis, especially when you play solid defense, and the offense controls the clock. We won the time of possession battle by more than five minutes.
I'm tired of reading this narrative that 17 points won't win football games. So far it's won us two of our last three. Our offense may not have been overly flashy, especially through the air and on the scoreboard, but we controlled the ball and the clock. Many Super Bowls have been won using the exact same formula.
MHR - Oakland will possibly be the best defense Brock has faced so far. As the offensive line continues its "working together," do you expect Brock to be running from Khalil Mack and the Raiders defenders all day, or will this Broncos' line be able to hold them back?
lancing_2009: I fear for Brock come Sunday. If Jack Del Rio has watched so much as half a second of film on our OL this year, he's going to match Mack on Michael Schofield and say "Pin your ears back and beat him to the edge."
Scho is going to have his hands full for the entire game. I fully expect a couple sacks from Mack, unless somebody likeVernon Davis or Virgil Green gets solid chip blocks on him early and often.
The quick passing game is going to be huge. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and any of our tight ends have to get open quick. We can't let Mack get into Oz's face. I also hope to finally see a myriad of RB and TE screen plays. The few times we have used them, they have been extremely effective.
MHR - The Chiefs were able to put up 34 points on the Raiders, thanks to three turnovers and good field position. Do you expect Osweiler and the offense to put up big numbers like the Chiefs or handle it more like last week with controlled clock management and a lot of rushing yards?
lancing_2009: Honestly, I feel like we're going to get something similar to what happened in San Diego. The key is establishing the run against a defense that ranks 24th in the league in yards per carry at 4.4. They also allow over 106 yards per game on the ground, which is bad for 17th in the league.
While our defense is still among the league's best, we haven't been forcing as many turnovers as of late. Getting three against San Diego was awesome to see. I really hope to see a couple INTs from the No Fly Zone, but even if we don't get them, Carr is still going to have a long game.
MHR - Charles Woodson intercepted Peyton Manning twice last time these two teams met. How much of a problem could he and the Oakland corners be for Osweiler?
lancing_2009: I don't really think it's going to come to that. The offense we were running depended strictly on Manning and his performance. His performance wasn't all that great. The first INT to Woodson was really a decent throw, butOwen Daniels quit running his route because he thought he was being held (which he was). The second was a slightly under-thrown ball that Woodson made a heck of a play on.
The offense with Oz under center (literally, not figuratively like with Manning) has been drastically different. The running game has been efficient in each of his three starts, averaging over 160 yards per game. While the passing game hasn't been nearly as eloquent as with Manning in the gun/pistol, it has still been pretty effective as well. The entire offense really has found a pseudo-identity with Brock that hadn't been achieved prior to the Bears game. Brock hasn't had to carry the team to a win, even though he did do a pretty damn good Manning impression in the 4th quarter against New England.
All that said, I see Kubes dialing up a game plan very similar to what we saw last week. Run the ball and control the clock. I hope he dials up the aggressiveness we saw in the Pats game and the first drive last Sunday. I also hope Brock hits a few deep bombs on the boot.
MHR - What offensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
lancing_2009: As much as I've been preaching the run over the past couple of answers, I hope Brock has huge success. I'm talking over 300 yards and three TDs. A breakout game for him would be AWESOME to see, especially considering the circumstances, which I'll get to in my prediction.
A second would be sacks. I want to see 0 sacks given up by our offensive line. I highly doubt it happens (see above), but it would be amazing to see.
If you're game planning against Osweiler your game tape consists of him vs. his former head coach, 2 of his former OCs & Bill Belichick.— The Orange Page (@theorangepage) December 7, 2015
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos offense this Sunday? The Raiders?
lancing_2009: Personally I want to see Brock and Cody Latimer connect for a couple big passes, but I fully expect big things from Vernon Davis if he is cleared to play. The Oakland linebackers aren't very good in coverage from what I have seen, and hopefully Woodson is too busy taking care of the play action bombs outside the numbers to be able to cover Vernon running the crossing routes and hopefully and screen or two.
MHR - Derek Carr had a bad game last week but was the hero with a late comeback drive the week before. Which Carr do you expect to see in Denver on Sunday?
lancing_2009: I expect to see a rattled and shaken Carr coming off of a wicked game like last week. Not only was he intercepted three times, he was sacked four times and hit what seemed like another 100 times. The Chiefs have been playing remarkably well on the defensive side of the ball the past five weeks. I know they lead the league in takeaways during that span.
It surely doesn't get any easier for him this week against Wade, The Bear Wrestler, and the Ware-Ward boys. Speaking of DeMarcus, it sounds as if Ware has a shot at playing this weekend, which only makes our defense even more lethal. Ware left the last Raiders game with the first aggravation of his back injury. Hopefully the past few weeks off has allowed him to fully heal and get back out there this week.
Hopefully Ward and Sly can return to action this week as well. I'd really like to see a dominating performance by our defense on Sunday.
MHR - In our first matchup, both teams had atrocious running games - Broncos with 43; Raiders with 65. What do you predict for the Broncos run defense this weekend? What about its run offense?
lancing_2009: The Broncos' run defense is going to continue its dominance this week against a lackluster OL that is probably going to be missing C Rodney Hudson due to an ankle injury. He did not participate in practice Tuesday and is currently listed as doubtful.
I can see a slight drop off again from the Broncos offense in the running department this week. Let's face it, after seeing 170, 179, and 134 total rushing yards in the past three games respectively, it's hard to not see it falling off a little.
MHR - Broncos defenders sacked Carr four times in the first contest. Even with a healthy number of backups on defense, how will Carr fare this weekend?
lancing_2009: Finally, the Kool-Aid has hit me full force in the face. If Ware is still out, I see five sacks, three coming from Malik Jackson. If Ware plays, I see seven, and only one goes to him.
Ware hasn't played in the past three games. If he gets on the field, he's going to be playing like a man with his hair on fire, which will open up crazy lanes for everybody else on the Front 7.
Malik has been getting oh-so-close so many times the past few games that he is overdue for a monster game. He was in Philip Rivers lap so often last week I could have sworn Rivers was the local mall Santa. All that was missing was the red hat and fake beard. Missing Hudson on the interior of an already bad OL is going to be devastating for Carr. Hopefully he drinks lots of milk prior to the game; he's going to need all the strength he can muster.
MHR - The Broncos defense hasn't been bringing the blitz so often but it is pressuring the quarterback on nearly every play. Do you like this approach from Wade Phillips?
lancing_2009: To keep this short and simple, no. Not only no, but HELL no. Put your foot down and twist once in a while Wade. I really like seeing that we can get home rushing three or four, but our third-down defense has been lacking of late BECAUSE we haven't been pinning our ears back and going full force. Rivers and Brady had too much time to complete the 3rd-and-long plays that can hamstring a defense. We've got to dial it up a little more often.
MHR - What defensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game - and why is that one the most important this week?
lancing_2009: I have two here. First off, I want to see a ton of pressure on the QB. Get into Derek Carr's face early and often. After what happened last week, I can see him crumbling under the pressure, especially on the road in the unofficial loudest stadium in the league (seriously, does Arrowhead get so loud the TV cameras shake? Didn't think so).
Second, it was amazing to see our penalty numbers drop for a second straight week. Aside from the phantom holding call on Chris Harris, Jr., that nullified a second pick six (he was still inside five yards!!!), we played a really clean game on defense. We can't afford to help the opposing offense move down the field anymore. And that leads us to...
MHR- We finally got a game without a costly personal foul. Have the Broncos turned the corner on this problem
lancing_2009: As much as I would love to say yes, I have to say no. Von Miller could have been flagged for twisting the crybaby's shirt after getting his second sack. While it wouldn't have been a personal foul, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty is exactly the same thing.
Our defense is very aggressive. We are fast, hit hard and don't back down. Personal foul penalties come with the territory. The players just have to understand this and try to temper their aggressiveness until the next play. You don't always have to make contact with every runner, T.J. You can get him next time, bud.
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos defense this Sunday?
lancing_2009: Again, I think Malik has a huge game, but it's not only going to be him. Our entire Front 7 is going to have a masterful game this week. We're too deep, too fast, and way more talented than the Raiders in all facets.
Stats for Osweiler? Full Kool-aid Mode: 22-25 for 325 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Number of yards rushing for Broncos? 130-150
Which receiver gets the most yards? Cody Latimer with 95 and a deep TD
Number of sacks to Brock Osweiler? 3
Number of sacks to Derek Carr? 6
Broncos player with the most sacks? Malik Jackson with at least 2
Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall with 9
Field goals by Brandon McManus? 2. One from 50+ and another from 40+
Number of penalties on each team? Denver, 6 for 45; Oakland, 7 for 60
34-13. Denver wins, and it's not even close. Seeing the Broncos blow out my future father-in-law's favorite team the day after my birthday makes for a fantastic weekend for this guy!
- Favorite Broncos loss? It has to be opening weekend 2011. We lost to Oakland in Mile High 20-17 behind Sebastian Janikowski kicking a 63-yarder right before halftime. I had just been released from jail on multiple felony charges and that game turned my life around. I had something to focus on that helped get me clean and sober. Broncos football has been my new addiction ever since.
- Favorite Broncos win? The date was Dec. 27, 1998. John Elway threw his 300th TD pass and Terrell Davis broke 2,000 yards. My dad bought tickets for us to go for my 8th birthday. I'll never forget it. Denver won 28-21 over Seattle.
- Favorite Broncos coach of all time? As young as I am, I have to go with Mike Shanahan. Josh McDaniels is No. 1 on my "I wanna punch you in the face" list, and Foxy was too conservative. Wade is bringing up a close second, though. This defense is something else.
- Team you hate to lose to the most? The massholes.
- NFL team with the worst fans ever? Philadelphia. They threw snowballs at Santa. A close second is Seattle. 90% of them don't even know who Shaun Alexander or Steve Largent is.
- Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Chris Harris. He is so underrated it's not even funny. You can't ever question his work ethic and he took a lesser salary to stay in Denver, where he started.
- Favorite Broncos player of all time? Is it blasphemy if I don't say Elway? Because to be truly honest I idolized The Rodfather for practically my entire childhood. In fact I wore No. 80 in high school just for Rod Smith.
- Superstitions on game day? I literally wear the same socks, underwear, pants, shirt and jersey (a 1994 throwback white Elway jersey) for every game. Immediately after the game, I change clothes. If we win, they go back in the closet. If we lose they go directly into the washing machine.
- Favorite Broncos jersey color combo? Since nobody else will say it I will. The 75th anniversary brown and yellow with the vertical striped socks! LOL. But really, it's the all dark blue alternate home jerseys.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
As a small child I would sit on my dad's lap and ask him who we were rooting for. One day he said, "Who do you think we are going for?" It was the first Broncos game I remember watching. That was Super Bowl 32.