Let's face it—no one is surprised that the Denver Broncos beat the Oakland Raiders on Thursday night. Unless you are a time traveler that just came back to the present day from the 1970s, you know that the Peyton Manning-led Broncos are really good and the Carson Palmer-led Raiders are, well, really bad.
Even though the game was in Oakland and did take place on a Thursday night, there was still little doubt that the Broncos would come out victorious.
A win like this may seem insignificant; it's not like beating Oakland proves the Broncos are ready for Super Bowl glory. However, every team is a work in progress. Every game is an opportunity to take another step in that direction, and that's exactly what the Broncos did on Thursday night.
Here's what we learned about the Denver Broncos in their 26-13 win over the Raiders.
The Broncos Can Run the Ball
No Willis McGahee, no problem.
Peyton Manning will get a ton of the credit for the Broncos' hot streak, and that's warranted, but Denver showed that it's capable of running the ball when the opportunity strikes.
Knowshon Moreno was an undeniable factor into the Broncos' domination of the game, as he carried the ball 32 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. That's not a great average, but it's still good news for Denver that it has a guy that can carry the load like that and remain effective throughout the game.
With McGahee out for the season, the Broncos needed to find a running game, and it appears that they have what they need. Playing with a lead from the first quarter on, the Broncos were able to consistently run the ball and control the clock.
The Broncos won time of possession 37:19 to 22:41. It's tough for any offense to get in rhythm when you keep the ball away from it.
The Broncos Are Disciplined
In a league full of professionals that have been playing the game for most of their lives and make millions of dollars doing it, football still comes down to the little things.
For instance, if you have 11 penalties in one game and cost yourself 94 yards, you probably aren't winning the game. That's exactly what Oakland did, and it didn't have a chance.
Denver, on the other hand, only committed three penalties, costing it 25 yards.
Against a team like Oakland, the lack of penalties seems pretty inconsequential. However, as the season ramps up and the postseason begins, the Broncos' lack of penalties could be the deciding factor in more evenly matched games.
The Red-Zone Offense Needs Some Work
Anytime you win 26-13, there aren't going to be a whole lot of negatives. Looking at the box score, though, there's one negative that really jumps out—the Broncos were a meager 2-of-7 in the red zone.
Peyton Manning has been efficient all season. He's one of the few players deserving of the MVP this season and has resurrected this offense into a scoring machine. However, he needs to be able to make plays when the team is inside the 20-yard line.
Going 2-of-7 in the red zone is fine when you are playing a team like the Raiders; opportunities to score are not a rarity against Oakland. When the Broncos go into the playoffs, it'll be a different story. The issues with the red-zone offense must be worked out before then.