The Raiders have fallen on hard times in the last month of the season. Their defense has failed them and the Raiders have gone from a relatively promising 4-6 team to a disappointing 4-11 team with a lot of needs to address during this upcoming offseason.
Despite all of this, the Raiders still have an excellent opportunity to severely hinder the Denver Broncos road to the Super Bowl if they can upset the Broncos this Sunday. The Broncos can clinch home field advantage in the AFC with a victory, while the Raiders are just playing for pride.
In the first matchup between these teams, the Broncos dominated in the first half before cruising to a comfortable 37-21 victory. Peyton Manning threw for his standard three touchdowns and the Broncos offense had their way with an outmatched Raider defense.
The blueprint to containing the Broncos offense seems to be to play physical man coverage on the receivers to throw off the timing, while getting pressure on Manning. The Raiders defense, especially the one seen in these last few weeks doesn’t have nearly enough to match up with this offense.
Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins will have to be able to at least limit Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas on the outside while Charles Woodson will be responsible for trying to take tight end Julius Thomas out of the game. Even if they are able to do that, the Raiders have little to offer regarding pass rushing outside of Lamarr Houston. If the Broncos can contain Houston, they will have little problems putting up points.
With the defense almost certain to be overmatched, the offense will have to play it’s best game of the season to keep up. With Terrelle Pryor back under center, the Raiders will definitely have a different dynamic on that side of the ball, and Pryor’s explosiveness could give the Raiders a huge boost.
Rashad Jennings has been running great since he’s become the starter at running back and the Raiders do have receivers capable of breaking off big plays in guys like Andre Holmes and Rod Streater.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they are just outmatched in this game. The Broncos have scored at least 30 points in 12 games this season while the Raiders have only reached that mark once. The Broncos understand how important home field advantage is and will make sure they accomplish that goal.
Expect Manning to pad his passing TD record early before being rested down the stretch as the Broncos cruise to an easy win. Stranger things have happened this season, and anyone can win on any given Sunday, but the chances of the Raiders pulling off the upset are slim to none.