Broncos vs. Raiders: Denver Shows Concerns in Secondary During Win

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2013

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 23:   Denarius Moore #17 of the Oakland Raiders scores a second quarter touchdown against the defense of  Kayvon Webster #36 of the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 23, 2013 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Denver Broncos improved to 3-0, displaying the NFL's best offense by leaps and bounds while bolstering their case as the overwhelming team to beat in the AFC.

So nobody could possibly find anything negative to say about their performance against the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football, right? 

Pessimism is way more fun than optimism, so let's give it a shot. During its 37-21 victory, Denver's one and only area for improvement stood front and center against a weak opponent that never stood an actual shot. They can throw, they can run, they stop the run, but their passing defense is merely mortal.

Peyton Manning can find his receivers blindfolded right now, having already accumulated 1,143 passing yards and 12 touchdowns in what could amazingly go down as the best season ever for arguably the best quarterback ever.

A week after Knowshon Moreno established a running game against the New York Giants, Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball combined for 127 yards on 20 carries against Oakland, mostly all obtained after Manning's fierce passing attack gave Denver a comfortable lead.

The defense wasn't all bad, limiting Darren McFadden to nine rushing yards on 12 carries. The one thing the Broncos couldn't do with alarming ease? Stop the aerial assault.

Terrelle Pryor, who entered the game with 343 passing yards, went 19-of-28 with a career-high 281 passing yards and a 73-yard touchdown strike to Denarius Moore.

Oakland's passing competency mercifully prevented this game from reaching slaughter status. With the rest of the team clicking on all cylinders, Denver's average passing defense is the one thing blocking it from becoming unstoppable.

Looking at the Broncos' opponents so far, the defense handled a Baltimore Ravens squad that ranks 28th in total offensive yards before besting the New York Giants, who lead the league in turnovers and were trampled in a 38-0 brutality at the hands of the Carolina Panthers.

Despite facing two Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, perhaps Denver's secondary has not faced a truly potent offense. How will the unit fare if it runs into Tom Brady and a healthier New England Patriots' attack during the postseason?

DENVER, CO - JANUARY 12:  Jacoby Jones #12 of the Baltimore Ravens catches a 70-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against  Rahim Moore #26 of the Denver Broncos during the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Or how about facing Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or a Seattle team that has the defense to prevent Manning from running up the score? After all, it was Denver's secondary that whiffed on a deep ball to Jacoby Jones that sunk its Super Bowl candidacy last postseason.

After winning three games by a combined 56 points, the Broncos look great. Really, really great. They can give up all the points they want if they keep scoring 42 points per contest. But assuming that number falls down to a sustainable rate, the secondary could become their Achilles' heel again.