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Broncos Roundtable: Breaking down Denver's Week 2 matchup with the Raiders

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 14, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Oakland Raiders march into the Mile High City on Sunday hobbled and down for their Week 2 matchup against the undefeated Denver Broncos.

Coming off a 20-point blowout at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams, the Khalil-Mack-less Raiders come into Denver looking to even up their record.

Led by Mr. Monday Night Football himself, Jon Gruden, the Raiders will try to get their season back on track, while the Broncos look for their sixth-straight 2-0 start.

Here’s how our BSN Broncos’ crew sees things shaking out.

THE BRONCOS MUST

Ryan

Stop Beast Mode — The obvious answer here is to stop Jared Cook, but I’m sure somebody else will cover that, so I’ll go with my second key to victory.

On the Raiders one and only touchdown drive of their opening game of the season, running back Marshawn Lynch had four carries for 19 yards (4.75 YPC) and, yes, a touchdown. On his teams 10 other possessions in the game, in which they scored just six points, Lynch had just seven carries for 22 yards (3.1 YPC).

The same way it required all hands on deck to effectively rush Russell Wilson, it’s going to take a team effort to wrangle in Lynch, with everybody pursuing the ball for gang tackles. If Denver can cage the beast, they’ll force Derek Carr to throw the ball, something Oakland and head coach Jon Gruden don’t want to do.

Zac

Contain TE Jared Cook — In Week 1, against Denver’s defense, Seattle’s Will Dissly became the first tight end in NFL history to have 100 receiving yards and one touchdown in their debut. In the same week, Cook lit up the Rams’ defense for 180 receiving yards.

Denver’s consistently had issues covering tight ends in the past. Leading up to the game, both Vance Joseph and Joe Woods vowed they had a plan to stop Cook on Sunday.

If they let Cook and Dissly loose in back to back weeks, what will be the prognosis when they face an elite tight end, such as Travis Kelce?

Andre

Dominate LT, Kolton Miller — Derek Carr’s big weakness is he gets happy feet when he’s under pressure. With the Raiders starting rookie Kolton Miller at left tackle, the Broncos should be able to feast. Donald Penn on the right side will be a tougher challenge for Von Miller than what Seattle presented, so expect Miller and Bradley Chubb to switch sides from time to time, with No. 58 getting a shot at the Raiders rook in a really favorable matchup for Denver.

Oakland also looked a bit tired last week towards the end of the game, as those old legs struggled. At altitude, it’ll be important to keep pounding them and wearing them down.

THE RAIDERS MUST

Ryan

Stretch the field — The new worst-kept secret in the AFC West is that Derek Carr doesn’t like to hang in the pocket. Because of this, he likes to get rid of the ball quickly. Last week, his average throw was 2.16 seconds after the snap.

What this means is that Carr was either, taking his first read, checking the ball down or throwing the ball away. The result was a whole bunch of nothing for the Raiders. For the Silver & Black to outscore the Broncos this weekend, Carr is going to have to trust his offensive lineman, give his receivers time to get open and let a few deep balls fly to keep the Broncos’ ballhawks honest.

If he tries to live underneath all day, he may have another three-pick game, because the Denver ‘D’ will be sitting on it.

Zac

Run the ball effectively — It’s as simple as this, if the Raiders want to win they must be able to run the ball against Denver’s stout front seven.

Last year, Oakland and Denver split the season series. In Oakland’s loss, they only ran for 24 yards. In their win, they racked up 104.

Being able to run the ball effectively would keep Von Miller and Co. off Derek Carr and allow their offense to breathe.

Andre

Get production from their young DL — Last week, Todd Gurley slowly wore Oakland’s young run defense down; if the Broncos are able to establish their ground game, the Raiders will have a rough time. Oakland’s corners will have to play well, too, as their defense needs a big bounce-back performance against a much improved Denver offense.

THE RAIDERS WIN IF

Ryan

They win the turnover battle by two or more — This is not a good matchup for Oakland on paper.

Like all upsets, the Raiders are going to need to cause a few turnovers and maybe ever cash in on a couple fluky ones if they’re going to have a chance in this one.

Zac

Derek Carr plays like his 2015 & 2016 self — In those two years, Carr looked like one of the best and brightest young quarterbacks in the game, combining for 60 touchdowns to only 19 interceptions.

Since his injury at the end of the 2016 season, he hasn’t regained that form.

During Carr’s excellent two-year stretch, the Raiders went 2-1 against the Broncos. Outside of that, Carr is a mere 1-3.

Andre

Carr and Gruden perform like they’re worth $225 million — There is a scenario in which Oakland wins; they win the turnover battle by playing mistake-free, and Oakland’s passing offense takes off, with some sound play calling and a big performance from their QB.

Look, it’s early, anything can happen, and these two are very talented at what they do. Give Carr a clean pocket, and he can launch passes deep, and Gruden is still a phenomenal offensive mind who showed some new looks in Week 1. They can get you if you don’t get pressure on Carr and play tight coverage on those receivers.

THE BRONCOS WIN IF

Ryan

They don’t beat themselves — Turnovers, penalties, missed assignments, mental lapses, that’s how you get beat by a team that you should take care of easily.

If the Broncos play clean football and avoid giving the Raiders free boosts of confidence, they’ll take care of business. They were a bit sloppy in Week 1, one of those things that just happens early in the season, but this is when they need to tighten things up.

Zac

They don’t lose the turnover battle — Last week, against the Seattle Seahawks, the Broncos got away with one after turning the ball over three times and still came away with the victory.

Although they ended the game even in the turnover battle, thanks to the defense, they shouldn’t test their luck again this week. Last year, teams were a dismal 11-78 when they turned the ball over at least three times, including an 0-5 mark by the Broncos.

Additionally, in Denver’s loss to the Raiders last year, the Broncos lost the turnover battle. The Los Angeles Rams handily beat Oakland in Week 1 thanks in large part to winning the turnover battle 3-0.

Protect the ball. Don’t lose the turnover battle. Nuff said.

Andre

They avoid breakdowns in coverage — With all the talk this offseason about the third cornerback, we forgot that stopping tight ends and running backs in the passing game is still an issue for the Broncos ‘D’. The Raiders with Jared Cook and Jalen Richard, a really talented receiving TE and RB combo, will present a tough test.

If Denver can stop them, avoiding breakdowns in coverage from linebackers and safeties, the defense will have a big game.

KEY PLAYER

Ryan

Case Keenum — This is the week that Case Keenum needs to win over Broncos Country. If he can go out there and have the game he should have, especially against a weak pass rush, the Broncos will win going away, and all of Denver will be on board the Keenum train.

Keenum should be the best quarterback on the field on Sunday; if he can make that obvious, this game shouldn’t be a problem for the Broncos.

Zac

Marshawn Lynch — Don’t let Beast Mode take over the Mile High City. Last year, in Denver’s 16-10 win, the Broncos smothered Lynch at home, holding him to 12 yards on nine carries.

It doesn’t have to be that drastic this time around, but not letting Marshawn take over the game will be important. It will also be a team effort as Lynch averaged 2.5 yards after contact against the Rams.

Andre

Amari Cooper — Getting the Raiders talented—and still young—receiver going could really add another dimension to the Raiders’ offense that was missing in Week 1. Carr to Cooper can be a tough combination to stop, especially if the offense gets in rhythm. Don’t be surprised if Gruden tries to get the former Alabama standout involved early, and moves him around to hunt for matchups.

Don’t overlook young pass rusher Arden Key either, who has length and athleticism to do damage if he can pin his ears back and get after Keenum.

RESULT

Ryan

Broncos 30, Raiders 17 — The Broncos are 50-8-2 in their last 60 home games during the first two weeks of the season, and the Raiders simply aren’t very good.

This is a good chance for Denver to show the NFL world that they aren’t the 2017 Broncos anymore.

Zac

Broncos 30, Raiders 16 — On paper, this should be an easy win for Denver. Case Keenum should be able to throw the ball effectively, and the run game should find success.

Denver’s defense shouldn’t have a problem limiting Oakland’s run game, which will put too much pressure on Carr’s shoulders.

Andre

Broncos 27, Raiders 17 — It’s hard to read anything into Week 1 performances, but the Broncos look better right now, and the home factor—added to a short week for the Raiders—is going to be tough for them to overcome. Expect a slightly cleaner performance from Denver’s offense, as the Raiders run out of steam by the fourth quarter.

LINE Broncos -6

Ryan

Denver covers — Take it to the book.

Zac

Denver should cover — Jon Gruden all but admitted it, the Raiders are in full rebuild mode.

Denver should be able to beat the Raiders as they are coming off a short travel week. What could keep it closer than six is the fact it’s a division rivalry game.

Andre

Denver covers — This scares me a bit and feels like an overreaction on both teams, as a six-point home advantage is a lot for a Broncos team that only won five games last year. That said, even if I think the bookmakers are being a bit overzealous, I predict Denver wins by two scores here, so I’ll take the Broncos -6.

GAME MVP

Ryan

Emmanuel Sanders — The Raiders struggled with Brandin Cooks and Cooper Cupp last week, and Sanders is a bit of both of those guys rolled into one. Between Oakland’s lack of a pass rush and below-average cornerbacks, one of the Broncos’ receivers is liable to go off. After seeing the Keenum-Sanders connection get off on the right foot last week, what’s to stop it this week?

Zac

Case Keenum — Outside of three interceptions — which I’m not discounting— Keenum had quite a game last week. Against the Raiders, he’ll straighten out most of his mistakes from last week and still take the deep shots.

He’ll make a strong case that he’s the best quarterback on the field.

Andre

Demaryius Thomas — The Broncos made it a point to target Thomas early and often in last week’s opener, and after a rocky start, DT got going. Against the Raiders shaky cornerbacks, expect more of the same, as the big wideout should be able to dominate on quick completions and rack up YAC. 

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