Raiders head to Denver loooking to stall Manning, Broncos’ high-octane offense

Posted: September 23, 2013 in NFL
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By W.G. RamirezLine1_PROOF

There are some surprising teams still undefeated in the NFL, and tonight the Denver Broncos (2-0) must do their best job to not only swat the Oakland Raiders (1-1), but also put forth a dominating effort to keep pace with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs, and yes, even the Miami Dolphins, from a mental standpoint.

In their first two games, the Broncos have experienced very little adversity in crushing the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants. Quarterback Peyton Manning and the Broncos have put up 40-plus points in both games and made offense look easy.

Point blank, Manning has been career-like. And, yes, I know the Broncos lost starting left tackle Ryan Clady to a season-ending Lisfranc foot injury, but there’s been plenty of time to prepare for this situation, and you best believe Manning has made it clear in no uncertain terms that he better be protected.

Oakland, which has split its first two games behind dual-threat quarterback Terrelle Pryor, is going to try to play keep-away and rely on a running attack that averaged a league-best 198.5 yards in the first two games.

Pryor has been a big part of the rushing game, as he already set a franchise record with 112 yards on the ground in the team’s season-opening loss at Indianapolis, while running back Darren McFadden rushed for 129 yards in last week’s 19-9 win over Jacksonville. McFadden boasts an AFC-best 223 yards.

Now Pryor and Run DMC must take on Denver’s run defense, which ranks first in the league. True, the Ravens and Giants abandoned the ground game against the Broncos because they both fell so far behind, and yes the Raiders’ run offense ranks first in the league, but that doesn’t mean Denver won’t pull ahead quickly and force Oakland to do the same thing. And beware when going to the passing game, Denver’s defense came into Week 2 leading the NFL with six interceptions.

Fact is, come 5:40 p.m. pacific time, a good ol’ fashioned AFC West rivalry will be in primetime, and it’ll come down to my key matchup in the game…

KEY SHOWDOWN: Manning’s offense vs. Oakland defense

It’s pretty cut and dry, isn’t it?

Manning’s passer rating is off the charts with a league-leading 131.0 after throwing for 769 yards with nine touchdowns and zero interceptions after the first two weeks. He’s the first quarterback to open the season with a 9-0 ratio.

And if the Raiders are going to have any chance, forget about the strength of their league-leading rushing offense (198.5 yards per game), they need to use their staunch defense that finished Week 2 tied for the league lead in sacks with nine.

Overall, Oakland’s defense ranks fourth in the league with an average of 261 yards allowed and will undoubtedly attempt to exploit Clady’s absence.

Manning has enough weapons to spread the wealth, however, with a trifecta of wideouts: Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker. And lest I forget to mention tight end Julius Thomas, not to mention former first-round draft pick Knowshon Moreno, who spotlighted the running game with a 93-yard, two-touchdown effort in last week’s win over the Giants, and is a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Denver led the NFL in scoring by 24 points entering the week. Even after every team has played except these two, the Broncos still rank No. 1 overall with their offense – with 462 yards per game – and rank 3rd overall in points scored with 90.

Again, the Green Bay Packers (96) and Chicago Bears (95) rank No. 1 and 2, respectively, after they’ve played three games. The Broncos rank 3rd and still have tonight to play. Oh and by the way, Denver’s 45 points per game still ranks No. 1 – 13 points better than No. 2 Green Bay’s 32 ppg.

BY THE NUMBERS: Oakland at Denver (-14.5, 49)

Denver, which has won 13 consecutive regular-season games – the longest winning streak in the NFL – rolls into this game having covered 7 of 10 against AFC West opponents.

Manning, who is 12-4 on Monday nights, is a perfect 6-0 versus the AFC West since joining the Broncos last season, and has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 15-to-4 in those games.

Broncos head coach John Fox is 4-2 against Oakland.

In addition, the Broncos are in on additional ATS (against the spread) win streaks 5-1 after a straight-up win, 4-1 after posting a spread-cover, 5-2 in September and 6-1 overall.

On the flipside, while the Raiders have failed to cover 8 of their last 10 on Monday nights, they’re in on ATS win streaks of 4-0 against AFC foes, 7-3 in September, 13-6 in intradivision play, and 4-1 overall.

The Raiders are 11-2 when McFadden rushes for 100-plus yards.

Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is 0-2 against the Broncos.

In this series, the road team has cashed out 8 of the last 10 meetings, while the Raiders have grabbed the cash 6 of 7 times they’ve been in Denver.

ON DECK: Both teams will be at home in Week 4, next Sunday.

The Broncos are currently a 10-point favorite at home against the Philadelphia Eagles, while there is no line in Oakland’s home affair with the Washington Redskins.


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