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Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders: What to watch for

Ken Pomponio Avatar
November 5, 2016

 

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Who: Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (6-2)

What: NFL Week 9

When: 6:30 p.m. MDT, Sunday, Nov. 6

Where: Oakland-Alameda Coliseum

TV: NBC

Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

Radio: KOA (850 AM), The Fox (103.5 FM)

Odds: Raiders -1.5, O/U 44

Notable:

  • The Silver & Black lead the all-time series 61-50-2, including a split in two postseason clashes, but Denver had won eight straight prior to the Raiders’ 15-12 win in the Mile High City last Dec. 13. The Broncos have won five straight in Oakland after last season’s 16-10 win on Oct. 11.
  •  Since the start of the 2011 season, the Orange & Blue own an NFL-best 26-7 (.788) divisional record, including the postseason, while Oakland is 11-21 (.344) against AFC West foes.
  •  At 6-2, the Raiders are off to their best start since winning eight of their first 10 games in 2001. Oakland is 5-0 on the road – with all five victories coming in the Eastern Time Zone – but is 1-2 at home, beating the Chargers (34-31) and falling to the Falcons (35-28) and Chiefs (26-10).
  • Oakland QB Derek Carr leads the league in passing attempts (323) and has thrown 17 TD passes and only three interceptions. Carr is 1-3 all-time vs. the Broncos with six TD passes, four interceptions and a 72.0 rating. He has been sacked 10 times in those four contests.

What to Watch For

  • Black Hole test: When it’s said that the defending Super Bowl champ can expect most every opponent’s best shot, these are precisely the type of games they’re referring to. The success-starved Raiders can taste the franchise’s first playoff berth in 14 years; coach Jack Del Rio and all of Raider Nation will be primed for a prime-time home shot at the five-time defending AFC West champs. How will Carr and a largely young team respond, though, to the suddenly heightened expectations? The Orange & Blue, meanwhile, are entering a stretch in which they’ll play four of their next five on the road – with a bye and home date against the Chiefs sandwiched in between. There’s little room for error. If the playoffs began this weekend, the Broncos would be the AFC’s fifth seed with a wild-card date in Pittsburgh. A win there and the Broncos would likely be headed to Foxborough for the divisional round. Clearly not a promising path on the road to a repeat, and if the Broncos want a better itinerary, these are the type of games they must win in the regular season.
  • Strength vs. strength: Look at almost any passing stat, and the Raiders rank in the league’s top five. The same, of course, goes for the Denver passing defense. It’s the fabled irresistible force against the immoveable object – an intriguing prime-time showdown that the league has sorely lacked in a season of TV-ratings deceases. After his record 513 yards against the Bucs last week, Carr is averaging 290.1 aerial yards per game. The Broncos’ No-Fly Zone is surrendering a league-low 183.9 yards per game and has allowed only Ben Roethlisberger (twice) and Tom Brady (once) to top 300 yards in 27 regular-season and playoff games since the start of last season.  The Von Miller-fueled Denver ‘D’ is tied for the NFL lead with 26 sacks and ranks second with an 8.4-percent sack rate while the Oakland ‘O’ owns a league-low 2.7-percent sacks-allowed rate while surrendering only nine in eight games. What will give Sunday night? The advantage usually tips in favor of the elite defense, but despite their depth at cornerback, the Broncos will be at a slight disadvantage as their best corner, Aqib Talib, is sidelined for the second straight game with an ailing back.
  • Broncos’ young offense must grow up. That just-discussed Denver ‘D’ is tied for the league lead with 16 takeaways and has turned those interceptions and fumbles into an NFL-most 80 points. Too many times, though, the Broncos’ young offense – primarily second-year QB Trevor Siemian and rookie RB Devontae Booker – has returned the gifts unopened as it did three times last week, keeping the Chargers in a game that should’ve been a Broncos blowout. Avoiding those mistakes will be key against a highly suspect Raiders ‘D,’ that while allowing 25.4 points and league-most 6.5 yards per play, is tied for sixth with 13 takeaways. It starts, as it usually does, up front where the Broncos’ struggling offensive line must open up running lanes and contend with pass-rusher Khalil Mack – remember him from last December? – who will be looking to get right after a somewhat sluggish start himself to the season. In actuality, though, the Broncos’ offense has nowhere to go but up after failing to score an offensive TD in the two games against the Raiders.

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