The Raiders need Lamarr Houston to take advantage of his favorable matchup this week against Chris Clark. Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Key Matchups to Watch For


Dec 6, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore (17) returns to the sideline after being unable to complete the two point conversion against the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter at O.co Coliseum. The Denver Broncos defeated the Oakland Raiders 26-13. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders will face their biggest test of the season thus far as they head to Denver to face Peyton Manning and the Broncos. The undefeated Broncos are off to a hot start while the Raiders are still gaining their composure with their 1-1 record. Many have already scratched out any possibility of Oakland pulling off the upset, but I think if they can execute properly and force some turnovers, then they will have a chance to prove themselves on Monday Night Football.

The game will feature tons of action, and there will definitely be some match-ups to look forward to.

One of those will be Charles Woodson against the Broncos’ offense. After the injury to strong safety Tyvon Branch, Woodson will be carrying an even bigger role in Monday’s game. Ironically, Denver was pursuing Woodson this offseason but the ex-Raider decided to come back to his roots.

Manning has developed a remarkable connection with his receivers and Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker are some of the most lethal guys at their position. Woodson will look to anchor the Raiders’ defensive secondary in a game that many people don’t believe they will succeed in.

Another key match-up will be running back Darren McFadden against the elite Broncos defense. McFadden ran for 129 yards against the Jacksonvile Jaguars last week, and it seemed as if he finally got his swagger back.

But make no mistake, this Denver defense is much better than the Jaguars defense that the Raiders faced last week. Luckily for Oakland, linebacker Von Miller is still suspended and will not  be playing in Monday’s game. That said, the Broncos are still loaded at nearly every position on defense and their synergy and teamwork is exceptional. They are easily one of the top defenses in the NFL and it won’t be easy for McFadden to get his running game established, but it can be done. He should look forward to the challenge and prove himself on national television.

Divisional games are always a little bit more exciting, especially when one is the complete underdog. If the Raiders pull of the upset on Monday night then maybe it will be their big break to prove that they are not the same 4-12 team that disappointed many last year.

Tags: Charles Woodson Darren McFadden NFL Oakland Raiders