Get ready for a wild, wild west shootout as the Oakland Raiders take on the Denver Broncos in an AFC West match up. Wyatt Earp would be proud of this one. Two gun slingers looking to put another victory up on the scoreboard. Two coaches looking to extend the victory run for another week. Two teams looking for consistency and continuity.
Carson Palmer comes in this weekend’s dual with a lot of confidence under his belt. He spread the ball around to nine different receivers against the Pittsburg secondary, and threw three touchdown passes. Palmer is the 15thranked QB in the NFL. He averages 293 yards a game, has thrown for five touchdowns on the season and a measly 2 interceptions and sacked 4 times. His QB ranking is 89.3%.
Brandon Meyers is a special target for Palmer right now. Meyer’s intermediate routs make him very valuable to the offense. With the stable of receivers being depleted Meyers is the receiver of choice.
His counter part, Peyton Manning, is ranked 20th in the NFL. Manning averages 275 yards per game. His receivers have hauled in five touchdowns; he been sacked eight times, with three interceptions on the young season. Manning’s QB ranking is 85.6%.
The Broncos are rated one higher than the Raiders in team offense at 17th (the Raiders are 18th in the league). Denver tops the Raiders in rushing as the Broncos Willis McGahee has found his stride early in the season, setting Denver at 23rd in the league, while the Raiders’ Darren McFadden is coming into his own this last week, showing glimmers of things to come. The Raiders are 31st in rushing.
I do not know if you could find two quarterbacks that were as close to each other stat wise. Otherwise, you would have to give the nod to Peyton Manning for best QB. Super Bowl QB, MVP all the letter awards. He has thrown for miles in receptions, always looks sharp in the pocket; can shred you with check downs and audibles. He is a great student, and teacher of the game. He even has a car commercial and those Tinkerbelle things with Deion Sanders. That’s gotta go!
Peyton was touted as the second coming of John Elway. Peyton was going to take the Broncos back to the promised land of playoffs- bonuses, rings and Lombardi Trophies. Game one he was remarkable, looked to be in post season form. Guess what? Things have changed for the former Indianapolis Colt.
Teams are taking away Mannings keys to his success; the pre-snap read is outdated for Manning. Teams are not lining up in normal alignments instead they are running to their spots making Manning decipher the coverage on his drop. This allows the defensive line to gain depth on his pass drop and drop him just as the Texans did this past week. Richard Seymour should have a great day. Manning threw three interceptions in the first quarter of the Atlanta game to match his worst quarter in 15 years in the NFL.
Manning is not fleet footed, he runs like a man in concrete goulashes. He will step up or slide side to side. Not likely that he will make a mad dash to the first and ten marker and utilize the slide for life.
The Bronco rushing attack has got out of the gate quick. The running of Willis McGahee has been beneficial to the Bronco ground attack he has carried the ball 50 times for 213 yards. A fleet footed runner that can turn the corner on a dime. We saw that against Miami and may look for another dose of it in mile high.
To win this game in the Mile High City, the Raiders don’t have to do anything outstanding. The confidence they gained by defeating the Steelers is a plus. The things they did on offense showed they can have consistency, with both the running game and throwing game. The offensive line is demonstrating mastery of the zone scheme as is McFadden in finding the running lane. Their receivers are working hard to overcome whatever shortcomings they have by running correct precise routs, catching the ball and getting up field and getting positive yards on the reception.
This may be the easiest game plan for the Black and Silver defense. Make Peyton Manning work to read the coverage, jam receivers at the line to disrupt timing and rhythm. Take away the intermediate routs that Manning throws so well. Make his offensive line hold that block for the extra count. Linebackers: continue to run your lanes to slow down the fleet-footed McGahee.
The Raiders must stay focused on the kicking game. Sebastian Janikowksi and Shane Lechler are excellent and have risen to the occasion. They are a part of the puzzle that will entertain a victory in Denver. A blocked punt, a blocked field goal, a punt return, or a kickoff return is always an advantage that goes to the raiders. Starting in Bronco territory is always a benefit.
“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph” – Thomas Paine