Denver can not hold on at home to defeat Oakland, allowing Russell to orchestrate a last minute, game winning drive.
Oakland Raiders (20) @ Denver Broncos (19)
This was obviously a game that Denver should have won. Not only are the Raiders one of the worst ball clubs in the league, but Denver controlled this rivalry faceoff throughout, only to ultimately fail down the stretch. Denver still controls their destiny to make it into the playoffs, but a loss against the lowly Raiders is never good for a team’s confidence this late in the season.
Denver had multiple opportunities to put this game away, but they could not execute on those efforts. The Raiders played tough defense and hung in the ballgame, leaving themselves in a prime spot to snag this win away from the Broncos on their last drive. And they did just that, thanks to a clutch JaMarcus Russell coming through in the end.
Despite the Broncos not turning over the ball, the ruination of Denver was the fact that they could not convert on third down. Denver could also not muster up enough offense to put the Raiders away, keeping the game way too close, which ultimately came to bite them in the end. Oakland, obviously outmatched by the better team, rebounded from a nasty loss to the Redskins last week and never gave up, which ultimately paid off with a last minute, game winning drive.
Denver has really been hit or miss this season. In some games, they look like one of the stronger teams in the league, but in others, they seem very beatable. This is a team that plays on momentum; when they’re hot they’re hot, when they’re not, they’re not even close. The Broncos have a very tough matchup coming up this next weekend against the Eagles, a ball club that has been playing extremely well as of late, and then Denver finishes off their season against the struggling Chiefs. A win against Philadelphia would almost solidify an appearance in the postseason, but a loss to the Eagles could place those hopes in severe jeopardy.
Denver has yet to find their true identity this season. They have beaten very good ball clubs, but then lose to some of the worst. Sometimes their offense looks great, other times they look horrible. That has even been the case within ballgames. The defense on the other hand has been solid for pretty much the entire season, but they have yet to consistently showcase a lights out unit. What team might show up next week against the Eagles remains undetermined, but if they play like they did this week against Oakland, they will not win.
What this season has come down to for Denver is that if they win, they’re in. The stellar start to the season has given them that luxury, but there are many good teams on their tail. The Eagles are also attempting to make it into the postseason, so this game will mean a lot to both ball clubs. But this next game against Philadelphia means a lot more to one of the Denver Broncos. Considering how important this matchup is to Brian Dawkins and his Broncos, beating his old teammates in a must-win game for both ball clubs will make this next battle even more fun to watch.
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Written by Josh Souder