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Four magic numbers for the Denver Broncos to beat the Oakland Raiders

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 29, 2017

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the Mile High City, beating the Oakland Raiders is almost magical. Every season, the Denver Broncos get two opportunities to bring this joy to the diehard fans in Denver.

In the rivalry spanning over half a century, the Raiders own the most important number—a 62-51-2 record over Denver.

As a 12-4 team last year, and 2-1 to start 2017, Oakland posses many challenges for opposing teams. However, the four numbers below expose the Raiders’ weaknesses and write the blueprint on how to beat the Silver & Black.

When the two teams step on the field Sunday, if the Denver Broncos (2-1) can hold their division rival to all, or at least some, of these numbers below, they’ll have an excellent chance of heading into their bye week with the sweetest victory of all.


Since the start of 2016—including their lone playoff game—the Raiders have gone 13-1 when they have at least 325 yards of offense. When they don’t eclipse that yard total, they are a mere 1-5—including Week 3 against the Washington Redskins in which they only had 128 yards of offense and lost 27-10.

While offensive success seemingly would reflect a team’s overall success, the Raiders are an exaggerated example. In 2016, for contrast, four of the Broncos nine wins came when their offense had less than 325 yards of offense.

What this means is the Raiders’ success purely relies on the performance of their offense. Against the New Orleans Saints last season, the Raiders won a game in which their defense gave up an incredible 507 yards, while they also lost a game only giving up 291 yards. Control the Raiders’ offense, and you stop their team.


Since the start of last season, when Michael Crabtree averaged less than 10 yards per reception the Raiders went 1-5. However, when his yards per reception were in double-digits, the Raiders went 13-1.

With Crabtree and Amari Cooper, the Raiders have one of the best receiving duos in the NFL. However, they’re not short-yardage possession receivers; they’re meant to consistently make big plays—much like Oakland’s offense.

What this means is it’s okay for the Broncos to give up receptions to Crabtree, but the key will be limiting them to smaller plays and not letting him get over the top of the defense. With Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib at cornerback, the Broncos should be as prepared as any other team in the league to cover the big-play threat.


Much like Crabtree isn’t a short-yardage receiver, his quarterback, Derek Carr, isn’t a short-yardage quarterback. At least his team doesn’t find success when he only looks short, that is.

Since the start of 2016, when Carr averaged at least seven yards per pass attempt, the Raiders went a perfect 11-0. However, when he threw for less than seven yards an attempt, they went 3-4.

What this means is Carr, and the Raiders’ offense, isn’t effective as a dink and dunk offense—they are constantly needing big plays to find success. Unlike Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, who could check down all the way downfield and lead their team to success, Carr needs to look deep. And he has the weapons to do so effectively.


Since the start of last year, half of the Raiders’ losses (3) have come when they turned the ball over three or more times in a game. In their six losses in this timespan, the Raiders averaged 1.8 turnovers per game, while in their victories they only average .6.

Their success isn’t rooted in the overall turnover battle, either, it’s almost entirely how well the Raiders protect the ball on offense.

What this means for Sunday is forcing turnovers will be key to beating the Raiders, even if Denver’s offense has a turnover or two on the other side of the ball. If Denver can force three turnovers, history would say the Raiders will lose. Fortunately for the Broncos, in 2016 they had five games in which they forced three-plus turnovers, going 5-0 in those games.


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