Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over Denver Broncos

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Sep 27, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (52) forces a fumble by Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) in a NFL game at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Browns 27-20. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Attack, Attack, Attack – But Be Smart About It

Putting pressure on Peyton Manning is going to be essential for the Raiders. And if they’re smart about it, they’re going to get plenty of opportunities. Denver’s offensive line is having some problems, and with Ty Sambrailo ruled out for the game, and Evan Mathis questionable at best, the Broncos are going to have to do some shuffling on an offensive line that has already given up ten sacks on the season.

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It’s no secret that Manning is not the same quarterback this year that he has been in season’s past. Father Time seems to finally be catching up on the future Hall of Famer. But that doesn’t mean he can’t still uncork a few good games between now and the end of his career – which very well may be at the end of this season.

Against a weakened offensive line, the Raiders are going to have their chance to get after Manning. But they need to be smart about it. As Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report points out, against the blitz, Manning has been pretty good. But he’s been very average when teams don’t blitz, but have a heavy four man rush that collapses the pocket.

To underscore the point, three of Manning’s five interceptions on the season have come when he’s faced pressure from a four man front that has gotten to him rather than against an all out blitz.

For years, Manning has feasted on short and intermediate routes, allowing his receivers to chew up the yards after the catch. He’s done a number on the Raiders in a short passing game and hasn’t done nearly as much damage when he’s aired them out. If Oakland can rush four and still apply pressure, it will allow their athletic linebackers to sit back and clog those short passing lanes, which can help them thwart Manning’s preferred attack plan.

Oakland absolutely should send the blitz and put some bodies on Manning. A few good shots can help rattle the aging star and help take him out of his rhythm and his game. But they must also do a good job of snuffing out those short passes that turn into long gainers that have been killing them for so long – preferably before they get started.

Next: Three and Outs