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If you’re new to our Tale of the Tape pieces, we use them to dig into stand-alone college games throughout the season. They’re stat heavy, hard-hitting, and quick, so that you’ll be able to rip through them and still have time to put a bet in while you’re stocking the fridge with beer.
Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos (-3, 40.5)
Both the Broncos and Raiders averaged 5.5 yards per play last season, but went about their attacks in very different ways. Denver threw the ball on 60 percent of its offensive plays while Oakland had about a 50-50 split between runs and passes.
This year Denver is expected to lean on the run more now that Josh McDaniels is in St. Louis and the club will need to improve on a rushing average of 3.9 yards per attempt. The Broncos also struggled with third down (32.3 percent) and fourth down (31.1 percent) conversions.
Oakland averaged 25.6 points per game thanks in large part to the running game. They put up almost 156 yards on the ground per game, while averaging 4.9 yards per attempt (No. 2 in the NFL). Now they just have to work on the passing attack, which completed only 56.8 of its attempts last year.
Oakland’s defense struggled to contain the run last season, allowing 133.6 rushing yards per game, but they really got after the quarterback. The Raiders finished with 47 sacks, just one behind the league-leading Steelers. They were also pretty tough on third-down plays, holding their opposition to a 34.8 percent conversion rate.
Denver allowed opponents to complete better than 59 percent of its passing attempts last season but held teams to 236 passing yards per game. Meanwhile, the Broncos yielded about 154 yards per contest on the ground. One of Denver’s biggest issues on defense last year was pressuring the quarterback. The Broncos finished last in the league with only 23 sacks.
Oakland tied for first in the league with 33 field goals made last season, but only converted 80.5 percent of its kicks, while ranking second in punting with a 46.8 yard-per-attempt average. Denver averaged 44.6 yards per punt and hit 88 percent of its field goals.
The Broncos managed 24.3 yards per kickoff return but only 10.1 yards on punt returns. Oakland was even worse in the punt return department, averaging just seven yards. The Raiders weren’t much better on kickoffs with a 22.5 yard average, but they did manage to take three of those returns to the house.
Word on the street
"The veterans on the team talk about how they killed us last year. But this is a new year, we've got a new coach, new players and hopefully it'll be different this year." – Denver’s Von Miller on losing both matchups with Oakland last season.
"That just shows how versatile this offence can be. We can take anybody and just be a home run hit and just a chip away team. We're very capable of hitting the big play, the long run, long catch, anything. We're just a big play offence just waiting to explode." – Oakland receiver Jacoby Jones on Oakland’s big-play offense. The Raiders had eight passing plays of 50 or more yards last season – tied for second in the NFL.