The Denver Broncos have been unable to overcome slow starts in their pair of losses over the last two weeks. That emerging trend will need to reversed if Peyton Manning and the Broncos are to challenge for the AFC West title this season.
Denver faces its first division-rival in Week Four when it hosts the Oakland Raiders, who are coming off their first win of the year with an upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday. The Broncos are 6-point home favorites against the Raiders with the over/under set at 47 points.
The two Broncos’ losses to this point—on the road to the Atlanta Falcons and at home against the Houston Texans—came against two of the better teams in the NFL season. In the Raiders, the Broncos catch a team that appear very beatable.
Manning and the Broncos offense should be licking their chops this week in anticipation of facing a Raiders defense that was torched for 386 yards through the air by the Steelers. Manning has been a bit up-and-down to this point, but he also hasn’t been helped by a receiving corp that has had too many dropped balls. The Broncos are averaging 258 passing yards a game, which ranks in the middle of the league through Week Three. That number will need to increase against the Raiders if they are to snap their two-game losing streak.
Last year, the Broncos and Raiders split their two games with the road team winning on each occasion. Oakland prevailed 23-20 at Mile High Stadium in Week One last season and the Broncos returned the favor with a 38-24 win at Oakland in Week Nine.
Denver appears to be a work in progress as Manning and the rest of the offense has yet to really put things together this season. That figures to change soon. A step forward against the Raiders will go a long way towards elevating the Broncos to the status of some other top NFL picks.