The Oakland Raiders are hosting the Denver Broncos in a game with first place in the AFC West on the line – this is your place to talk about the game and all things Raiders football.
Technically speaking, yes, this is just one more game on the Oakland Raiders‘ schedule. One of sixteen. In theory, it bears no more weight than any of the other games the Raiders are playing this year. Ask any of the coaches and players and they’ll likely tell you the same thing.
Except that in reality – it is more important than any other game to this point. It absolutely does carry more weight. And how could it not? It’s a prime time showdown with a hated rival with sole possession of first place in the AFC West on the line.
It’s rare air for the Raiders to be breathing – at least over the last decade and a half or so. Sitting at 6-2, the Raiders are off to their best start since 2001 and have a legitimate shot to dethrone the reigning champion Broncos.
The Raiders have one of the most explosive and dynamic offenses in the league. Led by Derek Carr, his dynamic duo of receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and a resurgent running game with a three-headed beast in Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington, Oakland is racking up a tick under 402 yards a game. Only Atlanta, New Orleans, Washington, and Dallas are better at this point.
The trouble comes in that the Raiders will be squaring off with one of the league’s stingiest defenses. Denver checks in as the league’s third best unit, allowing just 301 yards per game. Oakland’s vaunted offensive line is going to have their hands full with Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray, and Derek Wolfe coming after Carr.
Making it even more difficult for Oakland’s electric offense is the fact that Denver has the league’s top ranked pass defense, giving up just under 184 yards per game.
More from Golden Gate Sports
- Raiders: Rookie stock report following Week 3 performance
- 49ers sign new long snapper amidst a flurry of roster moves
- Oakland Athletics win Game 2 of Wild Card round with late-inning drama
- 49ers: George Kittle and Deebo Samuel cleared to return to practice
- 49ers expected to place DE Dee Ford on injured reserve
Denver’s weak link in that defense though, is against the run. As stellar as their pass rush and passing defense has been this year, their defense against the run has been decidedly – average. Against the run, Denver has the league’s twenty-third ranked unit, giving up just under 118 yards a game.
It’s a pretty drastic turnaround from last season, when Denver had the league’s third best run defense.
If there is a crack in Denver’s armor, that’s going to be it. If Oakland’s three-headed beast can gain a little traction and chew up some yards on the ground, it could help soften that Denver pass defense just enough to allow Carr, Cooper, Crabtree, and company to make a few plays.
Offensively, the Broncos have been decidedly below average. Behind Trevor Siemian, the Broncos have the league’s twenty-seventh ranked offense and are scoring 24 points a game – enough to allow that defense to close out games.
But the Broncos don’t run or pass the ball exceptionally well. Which should allow for the Raiders’ improving defense to make some plays and keep them in it.
Of course, some will point out that Denver did ride a mediocre offense to a Super Bowl title last season. Which is true. Can’t deny that.
However, the Raiders played two tough games against the Broncos, splitting the season series. And it very well could have been a sweep of the season series if not for a pick-six by Carr late in the first game in Oakland.
The Raiders played Denver hard and they played them tough. Losing 16-10 at home and winning 15-12 in Denver.
We can and should expect another hard fought, low scoring, defensive struggle this time out. Denver may not have the offensive firepower to put a lot on Oakland’s defense and Denver may have too much defense to give up a lot to Oakland’s offense.
It is going to come down to who executes and makes plays when they’re needed most. The game is a toss up and the advantage, will hopefully go to the home team.
What do you think? How do you see this game playing out? What are the most intriguing matchups and compelling storylines to you?
With sole possession of first place on the line, it’s showdown day in Oakland. This is your place to talk about the game and all things Raiders football. So step up, speak out, and be heard!