You are using an old web browser. Such browsers do not support modern web technologies and do not offer proper security. Please update your browser or download one of the others suggested for free.
Mozilla Firefox |
Google Chrome |
Internet Explorer |
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos: Preview and Pick
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos: Preview and Pick
The Oakland Raiders have surprised many NFL experts this season, but in week three of the NFL schedule they will get a real teat. The Denver Broncos are one of the best teams in the league and they will be looking to prove a point under the prime time lights against the Raiders.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Odds
The NFL betting line for this game opened up with the Broncos listed as (-14.5) point favorites in this prime time affair. That line as expected has moved and can now be found at (-15.5) if not higher at several top rated online sportsbooks. The betting public still does not believe in the Raiders as 68 percent of the betting public is on Peyton Manning and the Broncos.
The Broncos are easily one of the best teams in the league as they are off to a 2-0 start to the season. Peyton Manning has Bronco fans believing that they are the best team in the AFC and a home win over the Raiders should be easy.
The Broncos could be one of the best second half teams in the league. Manning has this team ready to go to a Super Bowl, but they can’t lay down against a lower tier tem like the Oakland Raiders. The Raiders are armed with a new mobile quarterback, but they need to compete at a high level if they hope to beat the Broncos.
The Raiders are flying under the radar as a team that cannot get the job done but if the play at the same intensity they did when they played the Jaguars they may just sneak away with the win. The Broncos need to take this team seriously if they want to avoid the letdown. Luckily the trends in this game tell another story.
The football betting trends are obviously in favor of the Broncos. The Raiders are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game, 2-8 ATS in their last 10 Monday game and 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a win. The Broncos are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 250 yards passing in their previous game, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating more than 250 yards passing in their previous game and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Pick
With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
The Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos are scheduled to meet for Monday Night Football in Denver. These two always provide an intense match for football fans, and that is why they are always scheduled for a Monday night game. However, this year could be a different story. The game will either be dominated by the powerful Broncos, or it will be a huge upset by the Oakland Raiders.
- Denver’s Record
The Denver Broncos are 2-0 so far in the season, beating two strong teams in the process. In week 1, the Broncos got even with the Super Bowl Champs, the Baltimore Ravens. It was the Ravens who sent the Broncos packing in the playoffs last year. The revenge was a brutal blow for the Ravens as they lost 49-27 to the Broncos. Peyton Manning also tied an ancient record for throwing seven touchdowns in a game.
The other victims were the New York Giants and Peyton’s little brother Eli Manning, who always play with a strong defense. The Giants fell hard with a final score of 41-23.
- Denver’s Defense
Head Coach John Fox is a defensive-minded coach. During the off-season, the Broncos picked up defenders to reinforce—linebacker Shaun Phillips, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. So far, the defense for the Broncos has been OK. The Ravens have gotten a bit weaker since last year and still managed to score 27 points on the Broncos. The Giants also managed more than 20 points. That could be a sign of weakness for the Broncos. If their high scoring offense can be stopped, then the Broncos will have major problems.
- Denver’s Offense
John Fox is also a run-first offense coach. However, the running scheme has not been the best part of the Broncos this season. Knowshon Moreno only has 127 yards in two games, and that is the best the Broncos have. On the other hand, the passing is outstanding, especially with Peyton Manning at the helm. In two games, the Broncos have 12 touchdowns. This team is a high power offense mostly through the air. In the last game against the Giants, Moreno got two touchdowns, which was his best game so far. Peyton Manning will come out gunning against the Raiders, while Moreno will do what he can on the running aspect.
- Offensive and Defensive Weaknesses
Denver’s offensive weakness is basically the run. If the run is completely stopped, Manning will be passing a lot. The Raiders have a decent secondary unit that could give Manning a rough time trying to find an open man.
The defensive weakness for the Broncos is their secondary–the Broncos allowed 688 passing yards against them. Also, the teams that lost to the Broncos managed to score higher than 20 points each. So scoring on the Broncos is not an issue.
- Final Thought
In the end, the Oakland Raiders are going to have a rough time at the Mile High Stadium playing against a high scoring team. The key is to stop the run. The Broncos have proven to be better than the Raiders at this, but the Raiders need to stop Moreno, who is having a rough time getting yards anyway.
It’s also important to stop Peyton Manning. The Raiders have only allowed 361 passing yards, which is way better than what the Broncos allowed. The Raiders secondary will be key and so will the defensive line, which will have to rush Manning to make him see who his real rivals are
Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie acknowledged Wednesday that he was surprised Terrelle Pryor beat out Matt Flynn to win the starting quarterback job.
"From a standpoint of taking this offense, what Olie (offensive coordinator Greg Olson) has done, yes," McKenzie said. "I mean, he's come in ... to compete and learn this offense, and he's taken it and he's done a good job. I'm pleased. Very pleased."
McKenzie spoke with seven Bay Area-based reporters at the team's headquarters in a half-hour roundtable chat and broached topics ranging from Pryor to team expectations to pending free agents to the need for the Raiders to get the ball more to playmaking fullback Marcel Reece.
The highlights, though, revolved around Pryor, whose work ethic has been uncanny.
"I'm going to give it all I've got until the wheels fall off," Pryor said earlier in the day.
Throughout the summer and most of training camp, though, there was a prevailing thought that the Raiders were resistant to giving Pryor a legitimate shot.
After all, from the moment Flynn was acquired from Seattle on April 1, it was Flynn who was anointed the presumptive starting quarterback. Flynn was the new regime's hand-picked choice while Pryor was a holdover, the final draft pick of the late Al Davis. But Pryor won the gig outright thanks in equal parts to a sore arm, confidence issues and resultant ineffectiveness by Flynn in exhibition games.
"His arm definitely did not fare him well in preseason," McKenzie said of Flynn.
McKenzie has preached since he arrived from Green Bay that he wants competition and the best player would win out. Or, in Pryor's case, the player who gave the Raiders the best chance for success.
"Regardless, I mean, good players will stay here, point-blank," McKenzie said. "It's not about driving off players who were here and bringing in, you know, our own guys. It's trying to put together a good nucleus and core group of guys and then funnel other players in that can help complement them and put together the best team.
"And whoever plays will be whoever the coach thinks gives us the best chance to win. And that's what it's all about."
Pryor has the Raiders within 8 yards of being 2-0 and was electric in their season-opening 21-17 loss at Indianapolis, rushing for a franchise-record-for-a-quarterback 112 yards while passing for 217 more, though two red-zone interceptions proved too costly. He was more of a game manager in the Raiders' 19-9 defeat of Jacksonville last week as Pryor did not commit a turnover.
"Pryor, he's, in my mind, he's made leaps and bounds from last year, from the time I spent with him," McKenzie said. "He's done a good job."
Asked if there was a seminal moment where Pryor beat out Flynn, McKenzie shook his head. "Not really a play or anything, it's just more his progress," McKenzie said. "The guy just comes in, goes to work, from the summer to training camp to each and every preseason game, he's just gotten better and better. I think he's getting more confident, and that just comes with playing. So, just let him play."
Pryor will get that opportunity on the biggest regular-season stage of all --- "Monday Night Football," against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.
And Raiders fans have been very vocal about Pryor, who is just as popular as he is raw.
"I think he energizes more than just the fan base," McKenzie said. "He energizes his teammates and anybody that's watching. Everybody likes to see big plays. And he's a big-play guy. So, yes, the fan base, I'm definitely sure they love to see him play."
The Denver Broncos placed left tackle Ryan Clady on season-ending injured reserve and signed veteran tackle Winston Justice in a corresponding move Wednesday.
Clady suffered a Lisfranc joint tear to his left foot late in the Broncos' 41-23 Week 2 victory over the New York Giants and will undergo surgery, the team announced.
The Broncos spent much of Tuesday working Clady through several medical exams. Justice will receive the veteran minimum plus another $350,000 in incentives, a league source told ESPN. He was a second-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006. He started 12 games for the Indianapolis Colts last season.
Clady, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, signed a $57.5 million deal just before training camp, with about $33 million of the contract guaranteed. He had started 82 consecutive regular-season games since being drafted by Denver in the first round in 2008.
Chris Clark will start in Clady's spot Monday night against the Oakland Raiders. "Stepping up into a role like this, it's not going to be hard for me to adjust,'' said Clark, who received a two-year contract extension on Monday. "It's not about filling a guy's shoes for me. It's about me creating my legacy, just helping the team the best way I can and doing my job.''
Broncos offensive line coach Dave Magazu said he's confident Clark can fill in with Clady out. "You're not going to replace him, but Chris Clark did a great job all spring and in the preseason, so he's had plenty of work," Magazu said, according to the team's website. "It's not like he's going in unprepared or not knowing what's going on. So everybody should feel comfortable [and] go with the mentality next guy up and let's go to work."
The Broncos scored 60 touchdowns and averaged 6.0 yards per play with Clady on the field the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. On the 33 snaps he wasn't on the field, Denver averaged 3.0 yards per play and didn't score a touchdown.
This isn't the first time the Broncos have had to reshuffle the offensive line in front of quarterback Peyton Manning. Earlier this summer, the team lost center Dan Koppen for the year to an ACL injury. The offense hasn't missed a beat with Manny Ramirez snapping the ball to Manning, averaging 45 points a game.
"You want your quarterback to feel comfortable when he's back there, knowing that the person that's responsible for that is going to make the right calls and the right adjustments when the time comes,'' said Ramirez, who also signed a two-year extension last week. "I think I've filled that role so far and I'm just going to continue to improve it.''
The Raiders were tied for the league lead in sacks through the first two games, in large part because of their penchant for blitzing any player, in any situation, from a variety of angles.
Five of their nine sacks came from blitzing defensive backs. At this rate, the Raiders will need only six games to surpass last season's sack total of 25.
Padding that total won't be easy against a Denver Broncos team that allowed only three sacks on 88 drop backs and is led by a quarterback, Peyton Manning, that welcomes the blitz.
"This is the ultimate," Raiders defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. "To be the best you have to beat the best. This is what you want. This is why you play the game.
Tarver is the architect of a revamped defense that will start 10 players Monday night that weren't on the team last season.
He realizes that the only way to succeed against Manning is to take calculated risks that manifest themselves in the form of well-disguised blitzes and sound pass coverage.
That strategy worked well against the Colts Andrew Luck and the Jaguars Chad Henne. Tarver need only watch the tape from last season's game against the Broncos in Oakland to see what Manning's skill at dissecting a defense short-handed downfield.
The Raiders threw a season-high 25 blitzes against Manning and the Broncos in the teams' second meeting, with Manning completing 15 of 18 passes for 177 yards.
"It's hard to fool that guy," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "He's seen a lot. He does a great job in preparation. It'll be hard to fool him. It's going to come down to execution. We're going to have to execute our jobs."
At the same time, Allen said, the Raiders have to do something to "affect" Manning in the pocket, which means some amount of blitzing.
• Left guard Lucas Nix (ankle) on Friday practiced for the first time since he suffered an ankle injury. Allen said he isn't sure yet whether Nix or Andre Gurode will start against the Broncos.
Weak side linebacker Kevin Burnett also returned to practice. He missed most of Thursday's practice with an illness.
Strong safety Tyvon Branch (ankle), left tackle Menelik Watson (knee) and tight end David Ausberry (shoulder) didn't practice Friday, and they aren't likely to play against the Broncos.
• Allen said he is "leaning toward" starting Brandian Ross at strong safety Monday. Ross has worked with the first-team defense this week and declared himself "ready." "It's the perfect time for me to make an impact on this team," Ross said. He started one game for the Raiders last season.
After a sloppy win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders head into Monday Night Football as 14-point underdogs to their arch-rivals, the Denver Broncos.
There's no question that after two weeks the Broncos are the best team in the NFL. They've outscored their two opponents 90-50 and have emerged as the favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
Regardless of how well the Raiders have played their first two games, competing with a high-powered team like the Broncos is going to be a daunting task. Throw in the fact it's a prime time game and the implications suddenly become that much greater.
But don't count the Raiders out just yet. This team could easily be 2-0, but costly turnovers against the Indianapolis Colts made sure that didn't happen. Saying the Raiders can outright win this one is too extreme. They still have several problems to address, and the Broncos are an experienced, well-coached team led by one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
And it's in their building.
Here are a few matchups to watch out for on Monday night:
- Oakland's Rushing Offense vs. Denver's Rushing Defense
After the first two weeks, the Raiders lead the league in rushing at 198.5 yards per game. It's an astronomical upgrade from last season when Oakland couldn't even run the ball past the line of scrimmage.
The Broncos, on the other hand, lead the league in rushing defense by allowing just 40.5 yards per game.
Darren McFadden had his best game in two years last week when he total over 170 yards, including 129 on the ground. Even though it was against the Jaguars, it gave McFadden some much-needed confidence heading into a crucial game. When running in the power-blocking scheme, McFadden has owned the Broncos. In 2010 and 2011, he averaged nearly 145 yards per game against Denver.
The Broncos will have to worry about McFadden, and they'll also have to watch Terrelle Pryor who has 162 rushing yards in his first two games. Not bad for a quarterback.
- Oakland's Pass Rush vs. Denver's Offensive Line
The Broncos were dealt a huge blow when they lost their best offensive lineman Ryan Clady for the year last week. Clady was Peyton Manning's most valuable lineman since he protected his blindside. He allowed just one sack in over 1,100 snaps last year and was only penalized four times for holding.
The Raiders will look to exploit this and try to continue their impressive start in the sack department. After Week 2, they were tied for first in the NFL with nine sacks. The Raiders didn't even record their ninth sack last year until Week 8. They're blitzing from all levels and it's worked so far. Manning picks apart defenses if they blitz and don't get to him in time, so Oakland will be looking to get to No. 18 fast.
- Terrelle Pryor vs. The Elements
Terrelle Pryor will be making just the fourth start of his young NFL career, and he'll have to do it in a hostile environment that absolutely hates the Raiders. He'll also have to do it on Monday Night Football with millions of people watching him.
Pryor regressed a bit from his performance against Indianapolis when he astonished the league by throwing for over 200 yards and running for over 100 as well. Now that teams are able to get more film on him, he'll have to adjust to whatever defenses throw at him.
He hasn't really extended the field early on in the season, and it may be time to do that against the Broncos. Denver ranks near the bottom of the league against the pass and Pryor needs to exploit this if the Raiders want to win the game.
Denver is excellent playing tight defense, especially across the middle of the field. Pryor's conservative approach will not work against this defense, and sooner or later he'll have to break out of his shell anyway and throw the ball downfield.
The rowdy crowd, the high altitude, the nationally televised audience...Pryor will definitely have his hands full on Monday night.
The Oakland Raiders' front office obviously thought enough of playmaking fullback Marcel Reece to have inked him to a three-year contract extension.
So why does Marcel Reece become Marcel Marceau and disappear in the offense on game days? “I know,” Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie said with a smile and a shake of his head this week.
“Some of that is stuff they have as a receiver (so) we have to find him, too. At times he can be covered. At times, when it’s designed to go to him, for whatever reason he doesn’t get it his way. That falls on a little bit of everybody. But he’s definitely a part of the offense now. We’ll get him the ball.”
Good things seem to happen for the Raiders whenever the matchup nightmare touches the ball.
In the season opener at Indianapolis, Reece caught one pass for nine yards, though quarterback Terrelle Pryor missed him downfield for a big gainer when he was wide open.
Sunday against Jacksonville, he rumbled 11 yards to score the Raiders’ first touchdown on an opening drive since 2011.
So how do the Raiders get Reece more involved? “You can hand him the ball,” said Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson. “Obviously his first carry last week was a touchdown, so maybe I need to hand him the ball more.”
Olson smiled. “The one way you can ensure that a guy gets touches is to hand him the football,” he added. “We’ll look at that. He’s also obviously a threat out in space, as a matchup issue. We look at those things and we make sure he’s involved in the progression.”
Reece has never griped about how he’s used, or rather, not used. The former college wide receiver-turned-street free agent and practice squad refugee is coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance after catching 52 passes for 496 yards and a touchdown while rushing 59 times for 271 yards in 2012.
“I’m not drawing up the plays,” McKenzie said. “I don’t know what I’d be doing, maybe a fumblerooskie. He’s fine. It was nice for him to score the first (home) touchdown of the year for us. That was nice. Nice run.
“I’m sure we’ll see more of Marcel this year. Trust me.”
Dropping double digits in any NFL game is never advised, but the difference in talent in this game is huge. The Broncos are one of the best teams in the second half of the season and will dominate the Silver and Black. Peyton Manning has too many weapons and although it is a tall order, they will cover this number.