The Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos are set to renew their storied rivalry for the 2013 season. These two teams are meeting for the 106th time in the regular season and what is more fitting than these two playing on Monday Night Football. The Raiders and Broncos are matching up for the 17th time on Monday Night Football, which makes it the most frequent match up in the prime time game. Denver holds the advantage on Monday Night with an 8-7-1 record, but the Raiders own the all-time match up 59-44-2.
These two teams are a vastly different positions, with the Broncos being a Super Bowl contender with a loaded roster and the Raiders being one of the teams expected to finish to at the bottom of the league. Recently, the series has been streaky and it shows the two current states of the team. The Raiders won four straight matchups from December 2009 to September 2011, while the Broncos have taken control of the series with three straight wins from December 2011 to currently.
Heading into Monday’s game, the experts are predicting the Broncos to cruise their fourth straight win over the Raiders and maintaining their dominance over the AFC West. Let’s take a closer look at the statistics of these two teams from last year to break down the match up.
Points Per Game 18.1 30.1
Passing Yards 4,084 4,534
Rushing Yards 1,420 1,832
Giveaways 26 25
Points Allowed 27.7 18.1
Passing Yards 3,775 3,194
Rushing Yards 1,897 1,458
Takeaways 19 24
Looking at last year’s numbers, it is easy to see why the Broncos easily swept the season series against the Raiders last season. The Raiders gained nearly 900 yards less and gave up over 1,000 more than the Broncos. The Broncos were a top five defense in the NFL last year, which coupled with their highly efficient offense was a contrast in style with the Raiders.
This season, the Raiders are a completely different team, as their roster has been overhauled to create salary cap space. For the most part, the Raiders have shown signs of improvement in the early weeks of this season. The defense is light years ahead of where they were last year and that has been a major key to their early success. The offense has taken a step back in the passing game, but the ground game has found some traction. Looking at the stats from the first two week of the season, it shows a much closer match-up than in the previous contests.
Points Per Game 18 45
Passing Yards 315 752
Rushing Yards 397 172
Giveaways 3 3
Points Allowed 15 25
Passing Yards 361 688
Rushing Yards 161 81
Takeaways 0 6
Offensively, the Broncos have a clear edge, as the offense led by Peyton Manning has been other worldly through the air and they put up points at an alarming pace. Defensively, the edge goes to the Raiders, as they have allowed fewer yards and points through the first two weeks.
These two have some interesting unit matchups that will be interesting to watch. The Broncos’ first ranked passing offense goes against a Raiders’ defense that is fifth in fewest passing yards allowed and second in sacks. The Raiders’ pass rush is going to be key to the defense putting up a challenge, as when opposing quarterbacks have had time in the pocket that have picked apart the Raiders’ secondary. Also, the Raiders’ defense needs to create turnovers to take possessions away from Denver and keeping this game close.
On the other side of the ball, the Raiders’ first ranked rushing offense takes on the Broncos’ first ranked rushing defense. Teams have failed to establish the running game against the Broncos, due to them having to pass to catch up. The Raiders will stay committed to trying to get the ground game going and the two pronged attack of Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden could create a unique problem that the Broncos have yet to encounter.
The Raiders have a shot at pulling off the surprising upset, but it will take a nearly perfect game. The offense needs to constantly move the chains and maintain a time of possession advantage. This will limit the amount of chances provided to Manning. They also need to take care of the football, as a turnover or two could lead to disaster. The defense will need to harass Manning all night and make him uncomfortable in the pocket. Also, creating a couple turnovers will help keep the contest close and increase the chances of the Raiders taking this one.
On paper, the Broncos look to be the much better teams, but the stats suggest it might be closer than what it appears. As history has shown, anything can happen when these two meet up, especially on a Monday Night.