Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Bold Predictions for Each Team

Jeremy SickelContributor IIISeptember 28, 2012

September 23, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Eric Decker (87) catches a pass during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

The Oakland Raiders travel to Mile High on Sunday to take on the Denver Broncos in a game that could end up being one of the more entertaining contests on the NFL’s Week 4 schedule.

The Raiders are coming off a thrilling 34-31 come-from-behind victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. And although the defense played horribly, the offense was efficient enough to keep up with Ben Roethlisberger and his 384 yards and four touchdowns.

The loss of Darrius Heyward-Bey is a huge blow to Oakland’s offense. But as long as running back Darren McFadden is healthy, the Raiders will have one of the most explosive players on the field regardless of their opponent.

Peyton Manning and the Broncos began the season with a very impressive 31-19 win over the same Steelers. However, Denver has since dropped two close ones to the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans—both undefeated through the season’s first three weeks.

While Manning has been a little shaky early on, it is very encouraging to see how well he has played coming back from his neck injury against solid competition.

Here is one bold prediction for each team in Sunday’s matchup:

Sebastian Janikowski Kicks 65-yard Field Goal to End the First Half

There is no question that McFadden is the most important piece to the Raiders offense. There also is no question that kicker Sebastian Janikowski is right behind him.

It isn’t a slight toward Oakland at all, a kicker is a very integral part to a team’s offense—especially one that has had trouble finding the end zone as consistently as the Raiders recently.

Janikowski holds the record for longest field goal in NFL history at 63 yards. He shares the mark with three others: Tom Dempsey, Jason Elam and David Akers.

Coincidentally, that kick came in this same stadium as this week’s game in a 23-20 win to open last season.

Eric Decker Tallies 12 Catches for 150 Yards and 2 Touchdowns

Throughout his career, Manning has done a remarkable job of making everyone around him a better football player. Not a knock on Eric Decker, but he certainly will never be mistaken for Calvin Johnson.

However, he has shown the ability to be a productive wide receiver in this league. If used properly, Decker could be a bigger, faster version of New England Patriots wideout Wes Welker.

Manning would do well to utilize Decker as much as possible.

Though he is the team’s leading receiver with 243 yards on 17 catches so far this season, it’s a surprise that Manning hasn’t leaned on the young wideout more often.

The Raiders defense ranks 26th in the NFL, allowing 264.7 passing yards per game. While the Broncos should be able to control the game with Willis McGahee and their rushing attack, Decker should often be free to move the chains as well.

Contact Jeremy at jeremy@popflyboys.com, on Twitter @KCPopFlyBoy and at popflyboys.com.