Oakland head coach, Dennis Allen, leads the Silver and Black into Denver to square off against his former employer, and the Raiders most bitter rival, the Broncos on Sunday afternoon.
If you know anything about division matchups, they’re like mini-battles in a season long war, with the ultimate prize obviously being the division crown. These games are slug-fests, mainly because both teams are highly familiar with one another.
Here are three factors that can determine the outcome of the game in favor of the Raiders, come Sunday evening:
- Offensively, the Raiders have found their stride, and must continue to establish balance on this side of the ball. Raiders quarterback, Carson Palmer had a solid game last week with three touchdown passes. Running back, Darren McFadden, looked like the “RUN-DMC” of old, rushing for over a 100-plus yards, with a touchdown score. If Palmer can maintain the ability to be a steady field general, and McFadden can play to his elusive strengths, Oakland should put up enough points to win Sunday’s contest.
The Raiders decided not to bring in another receiver, after the head injury to wide-out Darrius Heyward-Bey, who is scheduled to make a full recovery, with an unknown time table. It will be interesting to see whether the depleted wide receiver corps make plays in the passing game, when Palmer needs them the most.
- Defensively, against the pass, is where the Raiders have struggled the most on defense this year. With Denver’s new gunslinger, Peyton Manning, back in maestro mode, you can expect Manning to have some some success against Oakland’s depleted secondary. The main objective however, will be to bend but don’t break, when it comes to giving up big pass plays against Manning and the Broncos, similar to last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Raiders signed veteran defensive end Andre Carter this week, to create more of an edge in the pass rushing game. As of now, Oakland has only three sacks this season (tied for 28th in the league). If the D-line can create enough pressure on Manning to disrupt his flow, then the Raiders should be able to somewhat contain the Broncos passing attack.
- Defensively, against the run, lies yet another issue with the Raiders defense. Between the tackles, the Raiders are stout against the run, but outside the tackles is where the inconsistency rears its ugly head. Oakland must contain, the Broncos three-headed running back trio of Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno, and Lance Ball to make them one dimensional. If either one of these backs have a solid game, this could open up a lot more opportunities for the Broncos in their passing game. If the Raiders keep a lid on the running attack, and fluster Manning, they should be in solid shape come the fourth quarter.
Allen showed the ability to motivate, and instill fight in his ball club last week, but now it will be curious to see if that was a fluke moment, or can he create that type of mentality with this ball club, week in and week out?
The Raiders are a game away from getting back to .500 in a wide open AFC West, in this young season. These are the games you have to find a way to win, because they count twice as much. Raider Nation hopes Allen can lead Oakland to a much needed win.
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Written by Arthur Kai