Here ye, here ye, it is proclaimed to all that the Denver Broncos, in the early part of the 2013 season, have been dubbed Super Bowl contenders by their fans, commentators, front office, and anyone else that will listen to that rubbish.
Peyton Manning throws seven touchdown passes in one game! That’s great, but can he walk on water? No!
Manning is a excellent quarterback, one that has won the Super Bowl and the M.V.P. award. But he is not the second coming, and he is not the entire package of the Denver Broncos.
Granted, he gets his props: 57 out of 85 for a passing percentage of 67.1%. Nine touchdowns, zero interceptions (that’s right zero)! He has only been sacked three times, and lost 17 yards. His QB rating is 131. Very impressive (maybe he can walk on water).
Yet, he is still not the entire package. He has completed 57 passes to nine different receivers. Eight of those receivers have two or more receptions. Wes Welker is in the lead with 12 reception on the season. Julius Thomas is one reception behind Welker with 11. Leading the Broncos with 213 receiving yards is Demaryius Thomas with 10 catches and two touchdowns.
Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball add to the flavor in the running game. These two have carried 42 times on the year — Moreno with the larger load, recording 121 yards and two touchdowns.
The offense has powerful punch, yet the Raiders can supply something the Broncos haven’t seen yet: Pressure, pressure, pressure. Downand distance blitz packages to force Manning out of the pocket into the sideline. You may not sack him, but you can rush his throws. Insist that he run parallel to the line of scrimmage, and make him throw against his body.
Use personnel blitz packages that take Welker out of the equation, and force Manning to check down to his second or third choice. And maybe, just maybe, make him run.
Let’s face it. The Raiders’ secondary has more holes the Swiss cheese; confusion would be a highlight for the Silver and Black secondary. Yes, they are a very young group- learning under fire, or an inferno if Manning has his way on Monday night.
However, pressure and confusion has always discombobulated Manning. Jamming the Bronco receivers at the line, breaking up their rhythm, and timing that Manning has enjoyed early in the year would give Manning something to think about, and missing his favorite left tackle in Ryan Clady could give the Raiders a gap of opportunity to pressure Manning.
On the other side of the ball, the offensive line will have to play at its best. The Broncos have five sacks on the year and have forced one fumble with six interceptions on the season.
Terrelle Pryor has done well on the young season, throwing only two interceptions. He is making strides in forming better decisions on the field. For the Raiders to come away with a victory, Pryor’s decisions will not have to be perfect, but they cannot be costly.
The Raiders have a trump card going into Monday’s game. The Ravens as well as the Giants both had pocket passers — three step, five step, and even seven step drop back, read the coverage, throw to the open receiver. Three seconds to throw the ball. With Flacco and young Eli Manning, they were never a threat to run.
Pryor’s feet could be the unknown factor in the game. Make him a double threat to run or throw on any given down. The Broncos have not seen this, and it could cause a problem for the defense. A BIG problem.
The offensive line will have to neutralize the defensive front of the Broncos so that Darren McFadden can be a factor. They don’t have to dominate their opponent; just sustain their block and let Run DMC power his way to a positive gain.
With John Elway (the Legend), the shadows of Tim Tebow (the Myth), and Peyton Manning (the Broncos), it will be a tall order for the young Raiders to go into Mile High and come away with a victory.
It will be loud, it will be wild, and it will be a great experience for the Raiders to compete with a team like the Broncos.