Remember when the Denver Broncos versus the Oakland Raiders was one of the great rivalries in all of football? “Raider week” used to be the two best weeks of the season for Bronco fans but now it is nothing more than a bump in the road. The Broncos, themselves, are looking at the Raiders on Thursday night but the fans are all ready looking ahead to the showdown 10 days later with the Baltimore Ravens. As much as Bronco fans enjoy beating the Raiders, it’s just not as fun when they are this bad.
When looking at a matchup of an elite team versus a bad team, the idea is to try and find one or two things that the bad team does well. If they have at least that one thing they do well, then they can hang their hat on that. The Kansas City Chiefs are terrible but they run the ball as well as anyone. I honestly tried and there’s nothing the Raiders excel at. Someone said that they have good defensive tackles in Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly, so I looked at the numbers. The Raiders are 31st in rushing the quarterback and they can’t stop the run, how good can they be?
Peyton Manning is going to have all day to throw and the Raiders secondary is terrible to, so he should be throwing to guys who are wide open. The Raiders have no one who can matchup with Demaryius Thomas. The only thing the Raiders defense has going for it is that the Broncos offense has struggled some in recent weeks but that just means they might only score in the 30’s, instead of the 40’s. If the Broncos come out throwing and forget about trying to establish the run early, then they could put up 40 points. The Raiders have trouble covering two guys and Manning spreads the ball around to six or seven guys throughout a game. If Manning gets time, remember the Raiders don’t rush the passer, then he’s going to pick apart the Raiders secondary.
In looking for that one thing that could make the Raiders dangerous, a friend of mine said “Carson Palmer could get hot.” If he does, it will be the first time all season. Palmer has been one of the five worst quarterbacks in the league in 2012 and there’s not one sign that suggests he’s about to break out. It seems as if people still have the Palmer of seven or eight years ago in their head, he’s not that quarterback anymore. Palmer does have some fast receivers in Darrius Heyward- Bey and Denarius Moore, but fast does not mean good. The Raiders should get their best player back in running back, Darren McFadden but he won’t be a factor. The Raiders offense can hit a big play every now and then because of that speed, but as a whole they provide no threat to the Broncos defense.
Are there concerns for the Broncos versus the Raiders? Anytime a team takes the field with another NFL team, there are concerns and there are a couple going into Thursday night. The first is the danger of overlooking a team like the Raiders but even if that happened, eventually the talent of the Broncos would take over and win the game. The second concern is the Thursday night game; road teams have not fared well in this spot. It’s possible that the Broncos could come out sluggish because of the short week and having to travel, but at some point they will settle in. Those are the only two areas that should give Bronco fans any cause for concern, but they shouldn’t lose any sleep over it.
The Broncos can end this one early if they come out and get the lead early. If they can jump out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, then it should be an easy night. If the Broncos come out slow, then they might have to sweat a little into the second half. Either way, there’s no chance the Broncos lose this game. Raider week has certainly lost a lot of its luster. Broncos-38 Raiders-13.
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