Monday Night Football heads to Denver this week, where the 2-0 Broncos will host the 1-1 Oakland Raiders in an early AFC West matchup.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos have had the look of a Super Bowl contender through two games, destroying the Baltimore Ravens and New York Giants—the last two NFL champions—by a combined score of 90-50.
Manning already has 769 yards and nine touchdowns—a ridiculous eight-quarter pace that puts him on course for 6,152 yards and 72 touchdowns.
The Silver and Black, meanwhile, who entered the season as a top contender for the No. 1 pick in next year's draft and first dibs at Jadeveon Clowney, have looked better than advertised. After playing the Indianapolis Colts tough on the road, they stymied the Jacksonville Jaguars last week to even their record.
Dennis Allen's defense has looked very solid, and Terrelle Pryor finally gives this team some explosiveness and dynamism under center.
Still, the Jaguars are to the Broncos as a run-of-the-mill NBA benchwarmer is to LeBron James.
This one isn't going to be easy for the Raiders.
When: Monday, Sept. 23, at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Lines (via Covers.com)
- Over/Under: 49
- Spread: Denver (-16)
Raiders Injury Report (via NFL.com)
Broncos Injury Report (via NFL.com)
Can The Raiders Pressure Peyton Manning?
If Oakland is somehow going to pull off the gargantuan road upset, it's going to have to find a way to contain Manning.
The Raiders have allowed an impressive 180.5 passing yards per game, which leads the league, and just 6.9 yards per attempt through two weeks. If Manning has time to find Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Julius Thomas or any of his other weapons, though, he can slice and dice through any team in the league with ease.
Pressuring Manning is vital.
That is, of course, easier said than done. The future Hall of Famer gets the ball out in the blink of an eye. Despite dropping back to pass 85 times this season, he has only been sacked three times.
However, on the other side of things, Oakland came into the week tied for first in the NFL with a whopping nine sacks, and Denver will be missing All-Pro let tackle Ryan Clady...
Well, probably not so much, but the Raiders could very easily make Manning uncomfortable in the pocket, and that will be Step 1 in attempting to pull the upset.
The loss of Ryan Clady hurts, but let's not go overboard here. The Broncos have looked unstoppable on offense, and the defense has been very solid, containing two teams this season that are not lacking in offensive talent.
Pryor is a compelling playmaker with lots of talent and potential, but keeping up with Manning in Denver against a red-hot Broncos team is far too much to ask of the young signal-caller
Broncos 35, Raiders 17