The Denver Broncos (6-2) and Oakland Raiders (6-2) are heading for the biggest AFC West game of the year to this point on Sunday. You can expect the Black Hole to be as rowdy as its been in over a decade.
Vegas says its even money, but the sharps are all over the Broncos in this one and for good reason. Denver has a proven championship commodity in its defense. A defense Derek Carr and the Raiders were unable to do much against last season.
The Mile High Report staff and That’s Good Broncos consensus score is Broncos 21, Raiders 17. I’ll take that.
Here’s how our predictions broke down individually.
Broncos 24, Raiders 13
I just can't look at this upcoming game and think that we'll see anything other than two teams showing who they are. The Raiders are a fraud. They are the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs dropping bombs on cupcake after cupcake while the MSM lines their steps with flower petals. They will meet reality this week as they face the Denver Broncos and get acquainted with the No Fly Zone. Your vaunted offense isn't going to mean jack. - Sadaraine
Broncos 30, Raiders 17
The actual champs meet the paper champs. All bark vs all bite. Look when the dust settles and the smoke clears, you'll see that Khalil Mack ain't nothing if he isn't edge rushing against Schofield, and David Carr isn't squat against an actual defense. The Broncos beat up on contenders, the Raiders squeak by the pretenders. Its time to force our will on the Raiders. Lets see if Kubiak can channel his inner Shanahan dominance this week. Look for the offense to put up about 23 points and the defense to add another 7. Broncos 30, Raiders 17 with a garbage time touchdown to make the score closer than the game really is. - Pete Baron
Broncos 23, Raiders 16
The easy thing to do here is put on my orange and blue glasses, and make my prediction like a fan. Of course, as Raider Hater, it would be easy to predict a 3 touchdown blowout for the Broncos. Nothin would make me happier. Raider Week is what we live for. So, I am going to give two predictions. The fan in me says Denver wins 34-7. I mean, who actually thinks the Raiders are anything more than a paper tiger?
However, the AFC West has been called the best division in football for a reason. Oakland is still a young up and coming team. They make mistakes, but they have talent all over the field. The obvious battle to look at it is the Broncos defense against the Raiders offense. Derek Carr will get a chance to challenge the No Fly Zone without Aqib Talib, which puts added pressure on Chris Harris, Jr. and Bradley Roby. The defensive line will be tested by Latavius Murray. This is no pushover game.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos offense will once again be facing a team that struggles on defense, and the question will be, can they take advantage? As long as the Broncos can limit mistakes and control the game on the ground, this should be a an opportunity for Denver exploit some defensive holes, and put points on the board.
In the end, the Broncos defense will carry the day, and should keep the Raiders in check. Look for Devontae Booker to keep growing in the running game. Going into the Black Hole and coming out with a win is never easy, and Oakland proved last year they can beat this team. This time around, Denver will do enough to get the win, 23-16. - Adam Malnati
Broncos 20, Raiders 16
This will be an ugly game that seasonal NFL fans won't enjoy. The Raiders are a team that have benefitted from playing a weak schedule, but their confidence is high, which could be bad news for the Broncos. Or good news... For a team who's defense looks better than ever. My prediction is this game will appear sloppy, with a lot of turnovers on both sides. But the Broncos will come out on top 20-16. - Kelly Fleming
Raiders 20, Broncos 17
For the first time in over 10 years, the Raiders matter. No matter how they got their record, here we are. That matters, regardless of the tint of blue and orange goggles you wear. Oh yeah, and it’s Sunday Night Football in the Black Hole. To use the old cliche: this game is huge for the team and that tarped-off sewage pump of a stadium … to say the least, it will be fired up. Last year, the Broncos didn’t score an offensive touchdown against the Raiders. If Denver cannot run the football, it has no shot in this game. The defense will show up again but the defensive points will not. By the way, I can only imagine the animals-hunting-animals videos Jack of the River used this week. I am a born-and-raised Raider Hater and I just threw up in my mouth. - Ian St. Clair
Broncos 17, Raiders 16
Thanks to a media that loves to champion the under dog (unless it's us), Oakland is getting love. Derek Carr is Jim Plunkett and Kenny Stabler, Jack Del Rio is John Madden and the team is the 1980 Raiders.
Reality is while Madden wouldn't have minded a penalty laden team, he'd have been ok with them being from nasty play, not stupid mistakes. Reality is Oakland’s run game on both sides is suspect. Also, only their WR’s are making big plays. Their TEs aren't great. Which plays right into our strengths and weaknesses.
What we're best at—stopping WR’s, is the cornerstone of Oakland’s offense. Where we struggle a bit is vs TEs and RBs. Based on this, we should force Carr into a dink and dunk game.
On our offense, we've got to find an answer to stop Khalil Mack. I'd suggest using only two WRs and go with two or three TE sets, plus use Andy Janovich as much as his hand will allow. Split the backs. Throw intermediate passes to Virgil Green. This is a whole area of the field that's been basically ignored, Oakland's LB won't be prepared for this and it'll help our run.
The Buccaneers showed that Oakland is weak on the right side and against QB runs. The passes to the right that Trevor does fairly well are the sideline ones. The ones he throws on play action or boots. Perfect match-up. Target the SS, too. Let's see him try a naked boot to the side Mack isn't covering. Trevor is going to have to use his legs this game. When third downs are an issue, you need a QB to help on some.
Keys for this game, is our offense needs to convert third downs. It boils down to that. A WCO who can't stay on the field is like a mouth without teeth and you’re given a steak. It also keeps Oakland offense off the field. For defense, use more Zaire Anderson, he's pretty good at coverage. With Oakland being a vertical team, our best coverage guys need to be out there. Take our at stopping the run. - Julie Dixon
Broncos 20, Raiders 17
Broncos win in the Black Hole because our defense is still too strong for their sheep-in-wolves'-clothing offense and our offense is just good enough to overcome their sheepish defense. But it will be close because Broncos don't do blowouts (even though I pray to the football gods for one every week!) Broncos 20, Raiders 17...because, you know, January 1978. - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Raiders 27, Broncos 23
Raiders week! This is the biggest game between the Broncos and Raiders in nearly two decades. On top of that, it pits one of the leagues most explosive offenses against one of the leagues best defenses. The Raiders defense is just plain bad. But with the Broncos still struggling to find their rhythm offensively, it's going to come down to the Raider offense vs the Broncos defense. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is quickly emerging as one of the best young quarterbacks in the league and is no doubt an early MVP candidate. That being said, Carr has yet to face a pass rush or secondary like he will tomorrow night. Look for Demarcus Ware and Von Miller to introduce themselves to Carr early and often. The Broncos will again be without star cornerback Aqib Talib which may cause match up problems for the Broncos against the Raiders young star wide receiver Amari Cooper. Typically defense beats offense but with this being the biggest game in the Black Hole since the early 2000s I think the Raiders top the Broncos in a tough battle. - Derek Ahrnsbrak
Broncos 20, Raiders 16
I am sticking with my prediction early today. This is going to be a tight game that could go either way when its all said and done. Those predicting a blowout are straight dreamin’.
The game will come down to the final minutes and its that Broncos defense that comes up big again for this team. - Tim Lynch