clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Horse Tracks: Broncos set to battle Raiders for AFC West supremacy

The Denver Broncos started off the season with a 6-2 record, but their biggest game of this year is this Sunday night when they head to the Black Hole to take on the Oakland Raiders in a gridiron battle for AFC West supremacy.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country.

After half a season of football, the Denver Broncos sit a top the AFC West with their bitter rival the Oakland Raiders with a 6-2 record.  They will have the opportunity to gain sole possession of the division lead in four days when they head to the Black Hole and embark on an important gridiron journey on Sunday Night Football.

If you would have told me the Broncos would be where they are at halfway through the season, I would have been surprised.  The team boasts and exceptional roster and a tremendous coaching staff, but with the quality of opponents they have faced early on, it was hard to believe the Broncos were going to win six out of their first eight games.

The teams' strength this year has undoubtedly been their defense, which is on pace for another incredible year and heated up tremendously against the San Diego Chargers last weekend. The Broncos are going to need the vaunted No Fly Zone and the rest of their crew on defense to play at a high level if they desire to capture the division and make a splash in the playoffs.

Moreover, the team will need to see demonstrable improvement from their offense, especially quarterback Trevor Siemian and the offensive line in the second half of the season.  While there were some bright moments for the unit (the Cincinnati Bengals game comes to mind), the overall impact and consistency of the offense was a huge question mark and a detriment to the team's overall efficacy through the first eight games.

The biggest challenge of the year happens against the Raiders this Sunday, and also provides the biggest opportunity for the team to take over the reigns of the AFC West and have control of the division and their destiny.

It's familiar territory for Denver and Head Coach Gary Kubiak is aware of the challenges Oakland and the hostile environment they are entering will bring.

"I think the guys know, they understand, first off, what it’s like to play there. We all know the atmosphere, how tough it is to play, but the fact that they’ve got a really good football team," stated Kubiak. "They’re sitting here at the top of the division with us, playing extremely well, and to come back and win the game that they won… Probably the biggest football team we’ll play," he went on to add.

The formula to victory against the Raiders will be improved play for the Broncos in the trenches. The defense will have to get after Derek Carr, who is having a breakout season in his third-year.  He has already thrown for over 2,200 yards and has 17 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions and is quietly earning whispers of MVP honors if he is able to sustain that caliber of play in the second half of the season.

Offensively, the Broncos will need Russell Okung, Donald Stephenson and the rest of their offensive lineman to do much better than they did last year against the Raiders' pass rush, specifically Khalil Mack who caused a wealth of problems for them, in particular guard Michael Schofield who allowed four sacks in only one game in 2015.

"They’re moving the ball; the quarterback is playing extremely well. You all know the problems we had with their pass rushers last year so it’s a big, big challenge and it’s a big game early in the second half of the season," remarked Kubiak.

Brace yourselves Broncos Country the biggest game of the year for our beloved franchise is right on the horizon.  The stakes are huge, and there would be no better momentum builder for the team than to destroy the Raiders on the road in prime time on Sunday Night Football.

As always, thank you for reading and here is today's offering of Horse Tracks.

Horse Tracks

Q&A with Russell Okung: Beyond the field
After joining the Broncos as a free agent, Russell Okung quickly identified himself as one of the team's leaders. The seventh-year offensive tackle brings experience, talent and a deep understanding of how the offense's system works. But there's much more to Okung than just football.

Six things we think about the Denver Broncos at the halfway point
The Denver Broncos are halfway through the regular season. Eight games in the books, and so far, things have gone fairly smoothly for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Raiders opponent outlook: Denver Broncos
The Raiders and Broncos go head-to-head on Sunday Night Football for control of the AFC West.

Broncos stand pat at NFL trading deadline; TE A.J. Derby only acquisition
The Broncos' message before Tuesday's 2 p.m. trading deadline was clear: Sure, there's room for improvement, but they like the group they have. That message didn't change after the deadline.

Five Broncos things you should know: Trevor Siemian's "teachable" moments, offensive balance & more
As long as errant passes don't turn into interceptions, they're building blocks. But Gary Kubiak knows that Siemian can't keep tempting fate.

WATCH: Inconsistent offense earns Broncos an overall 'B' at midterms
Bryant McFadden of 120 Sports wants to see more consistency from the offense, but still says the Broncos are a playoff team.

Torrey Smith: I'm committed to everybody on Niners
Reports that Torrey Smith had suitors in Philadelphia and elsewhere got the veteran wide receiver thinking about his hypothetical future, one without Chip Kelly and Colin Kaepernick.

Redskins' Trent Williams suspended four games
Washington Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams has been suspended for four games for violating the NFL's Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, according to an NFL spokesperson.

Kansas City Chiefs sign running back Bishop Sankey
The Kansas City Chiefs have added a running back. With Jamaal Charles scheduled for another knee checkup, the team has signed Bishop Sankey, per agent Jason Bernstein.

Chiefs place Jamaal Charles (knee) on injured reserve
Jamaal Charles' knee injury will sideline him at least another eight weeks. The Chiefs have placed the running back on injured reserve, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported.

Derek Carr, Tom Brady headline NFL's biggest statement makers
Derek Carr's a serious MVP candidate, Brock Osweiler's a serious disappointment and Dak Prescott's a serious surprise. Adam Schein reveals the most significant developments at the midway point.