Denver has fallen to 1-2 with consecutive losses. This week they will be hosting the division rival Raiders who have been successful in Denver recently. This game has taken on greater importance for the Broncos after their two ugly losses the last two weeks. In both losses the Broncos fell behind by 20 points, before rallying to within six and losing.
Peyton Manning has not looked as sharp as you would like to see, which is due to several factors. Thomas and Decker have had costly drops, preventing Manning from getting into a rhythm. The offensive line has been spotty in pass protection. Manning was sacked another three times last week, making it eight times on the season and on pace for the most times Manning has been sacked in a single season. Also and maybe most importantly, Manning has still not gotten fully used to playing every week again.
Keys to the Game: Run the ball. This offensive line has been built to run the ball and Willis McGahee is a solid running back. Manning has a lot of influence on the play calling, but to best help Denver, he should realize that more balance is needed. Even when behind, it is a good idea to run the ball to keep the defense honest.
Keep Manning upright. Peyton Manning had four neck surgeries last year, and there is no telling what one big hit could do to erase all the health he has regained. Lucky for the Denver offensive line the Oakland Raiders are one of the worst pass rushing teams in the league, which should provide them more practice to get on the same page with one another.
Keep Darren McFadden in check. McFadden is the best offensive weapon of the Raiders and if he is held in check, Oakland’s offense will be severely hampered. The Broncos have had trouble against the run so far this year, which the Raiders will attack.
Injuries: The Denver Broncos remain extremely healthy this season. Safety Quiton Carter is out for the season with knee surgery and guard Chris Kuper is doubtful.
The Raiders on the other hand have several players injured. Tackle Khalif Barnes and cornerback Shawntae Spencer are out. McFadden is probable, but he will most likely play. Receiver Heyward-Bey is doubtful after getting crushed last week, but he is recovering nicely and will make a return at some point this season.
Final Analysis: The Oakland Raiders definitely have a punchers chance in this game, but I cannot see Manning losing three games in a row and two of them at home. The Raiders do not have enough talent on defense to keep the Broncos off the board. Denver 27 Oakland 19.