Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Previewing the Matchups in Week 15
The Oakland Raiders playoff vital signs are low and falling fast now that the San Diego Chargers destroyed the San Francisco 49ers. But the Raiders still have a pulse and will continue to fight for their playoff lives on Sunday.
That fight will be against the rival Denver Broncos
The Broncos still have in mind the 59-14 behind-kickin' they took earlier this season to the Raiders. There would be nothing greater for the Broncos than to ruin what little playoff hopes the Raider have as revenge.
The Raiders just let a great opportunity to pick up a game on the Chiefs and stay with the Chargers slip away. They definitely aren't looking to let another one get away with only three games left this season.
There are reasons for both sides to be up for this one so I think it will come down to matchups.
Turn the page to get a look at them.
Raider Run Vs. Bronco Run Defense
The Oakland Raider rushing attack is ranked No. 3 in the NFL.
The Denver Bronco run defense is ranked No. 31 in the league.
Something has to give here and I don't think it will be the rushing attack of the Raiders. Put that together with the fact that Darren McFadden is hot and had his best day as a pro against these Broncos just seven weeks ago.
McFadden had 165 yards on just 16 carries and three touchdowns on the day.
He had a receiving touchdown as well.
The Denver run defense has shown no real signs of improvement either.
Raider Pass Offense vs. Bronco Pass Defense
The Raider pass offense is ranked No. 24 in the league while the Bronco pass defense is ranked No. 19. But that's an up-and-coming 24 for the Raiders as they have finally found one quarterback and he's hitting his stride.
That one quarterback is Jason Campbell, who was very efficient against the Broncos the first time. Campbell only needed to throw for 210 yards but had two touchdowns and no interceptions.
His quarterback rating on the day was 127.9 and he had three completions of over 20 yards. Those three were out of only 12 completions on the day.
That's one fourth of his completions being for big yards.
And that's not even counting the two 19-yard completions he had.
Matchup within the Matchup: Zach Miller vs. DJ Williams or Others
Zach Miller is getting healthy these days and that's bad news for Bronco linebacker DJ Williams. Miller started out behind only San Diego Charger tight end Antonio Gates in catches and yards before being slowed by injury.
Miller had three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown in their first game in Denver. Miller torched Williams on a 43-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter to open the scoring.
We'll see how the Broncos try to cover Miller this time around.
Raider Run Defense vs. Bronco Run Offense
Ranked No. 26, the Oakland Raider run defense is good sometimes, but generally it is a weak point of the team. The Bronco rushing attack doesn't seem like one that can take advantage though as it is ranked No. 29 running the ball.
The first time the two teams played, the Raider defense held Bronco running back Knowshon Moreno to 53 yards and 14 carries. I can't see a major improvement here because passing is what the Broncos do best.
But the big question is will Raider middle linebacker Rolando McClain play?
Raider Pass Defense vs. Bronco Pass Offense
This matchup is strength on strength.
The Raiders have the No. 7 pass defense while the Broncos are No. 5 throwing the ball. In the first game, Bronco quarterback Kyle Orton threw for just 198 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
His rating for the day was a paltry 73.6.
Orton is going into Sunday's game banged up while Raider corner Chris Johnson, who picked Orton off in the first game, is healthy again.
It looks pretty good for the Raiders
Matchup within the Matchup: Nnamdi Asomugha vs. Brandon Lloyd
Brandon Lloyd is now one of the elite receivers in the NFL.
Nnamdi Asomugha is the best cover corner in the universe.
Which one gives here?
In the first game, Asomugha held Lloyd without a catch for three quarters of the game. Then with Asomugha out of the game, Lloyd caught a 46-yard pass late in the fourth quarter.
Asomugha looks like he's back from his high ankle sprain.
Matchup within the Matchup: Richard Seymour vs. Zane Beadles
Raider defensive tackle Richard Seymour should see double and triple-teams all day. The Broncos need to find a way to block him in the running and passing game.
Bronco left guard Zane Beadles doesn't have what it takes to keep Seymour out of the Bronco backfield. Then again, there isn't such a guard that could hold Seymour out one on one.
Seymour was dominant in the first game, as he put all kinds of heat on Orton and played the run well. It all amounted to four tackles, a sack and countless occupied blockers so other Raider defensive linemen can make plays.
Seymour will have some say in how this game goes.
Matchup within the Matchup: Raider Pass Rush vs. Bronco Pass Blocking
The Raiders have more than Seymour to go with when the Broncos drop back to pass. They have four guys with five or more sacks and are now third in the NFL in sacks with 38.
The Broncos are No. 23 in sacks allowed with 34.
The Raiders harassed Orton all day in the first game with four sacks and six hits. They even forced a fumble out of him, which the Raiders recovered.
And this was in Denver.
The Raiders fumbled the lead away and gave up a big return to put the Jaguars in position to win on special teams last week.
But the Raiders have played good special teams this season overall.
Shane Lechler is again among the league leaders in net punting average and punts inside the opponents' 20. Sebastien Janikowski is among the league leaders in field goals and touchbacks on kickoffs.
Rookie Raider return man Jacoby Ford took over the kick returning duties well into the season, yet he is among the league leaders in touchdown returns and returns over 40 yards.
It will be interesting to see what the rookie does after making a big mistake last week.
I don't see the Broncos being physical enough to stop the Raider running game. If for some reason McFadden has a bad day or gets injured, Michael Bush will be right there to keep things going.
I'm expecting good days from both of them.
Zach Miller is back and ready to make some plays on third down among other things. The deep ball to the Raider speedsters are will keep double coverage off of Miller and keep that eighth man out of the box to stop the run.
The running game will then slow down the pass rush when the Raiders pass. This will be a "pick your poison" type of game for the Bronco defense.
On defense for the Raiders, the Bronco running game doesn't pose much of a threat. But their passing game is explosive and can turn this game into a shootout.
But the Raider running game should prevent that.
We'll see how it all unfolds on Sunday.