The Week 6 loss to the Jets has left the Broncos in heartbreak. They had the game in hand late in the fourth quarter when a penalty and fumbled snap handed the Jets the victory. In Week 7, the Raiders come to Denver in a battle of 2-4 teams. This is a must win game for the Broncos who are looking to crush somebody to get headed in the right direction after a tough stretch over the past four weeks. Who better to face than the Oakland Raiders? The Broncos can get right in a hurry if they play tough and physical against a lost Raiders team. Let us take a deeper look into the keys to the game from my point of view.
There is a chance the Eddie Royal will be out this week with a groin injury giving the rookie some a chance to make an impact. Decker was more than solid in the preseason even though he was playing with and against NFL third-stringers. If Royal is unable to go, Decker will make an impact in this game. He is not afraid to go over the middle and catch the ball. He is willing to take a hit. He reminds me of a young Ed McCaffrey. Orton is going to put the ball on him with room to run and he will take advantage of it.
Thompson made a big impact in Week 6 against the Jets. He stepped in front of a Mark Sanchez pass with less than a minute to go in the first half and had a decent return setting up Matt Prater with a 59-yard field goal. All signs are pointing to Thompson handling all of the returns in this game and playing in nickel and dime packages on defense. With the game being in Denver and the two kickers that Oakland has, there may not be many return opportunities but if he is given a chance, he is dangerous. If Denver gets ahead and forces Oakland to throw the ball, he has a chance to get some more picks against Oakland QB’s.
I am a supporter of Orton and I like Tebow. I have repeatedly said on this site that I didn’t think that Tebow should take snaps away from Orton and I still believe that. However, I was at the game against the Jets and I have never heard the crowd as excited as they were when Tebow scored his first touchdown. Tebow was forced to quiet the crowd before every snap that he was in the game because the crowd wanted to see what Tebow would bring to the table. I think that you have to give Tebow some of the same kinds of opportunities at home. He provided a spark to the running game against the Jets and I believe that he could do the same thing against the Raiders. If nothing else, Tebow can provide a jolt of energy to the crowd to give the Broncos that much needed 12th man.
Jamal is going to be a big key to this game in the trenches. It is no surprise that the Raiders are going to want to run the ball with McFadden and Bush. It is imperative that Williams eats up blockers and clogs the middle of the line to allow the linebackers to quickly make tackles. Williams has been doing a good job all year and I do not think that he will have a problem her either.
I must say, I am really excited that we have this kid. He took a trip to Revis Island and he went off. He is big and fast and he can go up and get the jump ball. The only thing that is holding him back right now is his ability to stay on the practice field. Once this kid stays healthy for a few weeks he is going to be a dominant receiver. He is fighting for playing time behind Lloyd and Gaffney at the moment but there is going to be a few times in this game when Orton is going to throw the ball up to him and he is going to make a big catch. I hear that he is not quite ready to return kicks again but when the Broncos go to London, I expect him to be returning kicks once again. Against the Raiders he will be a big part of the offense against a relatively small secondary.
Matt is going to be huge in this game. He has to continue to produce touchbacks because the Raiders have an excellent special teams unit. The Broncos are going to need him the hit all of his field goals. In Denver, a field goal is a possibility as long as the Broncos have the ball in plus territory. I watched him in warm-ups prior to the Jets game and he was hitting field goals that would have been good from 70. Prater is a huge weapon.
I put Kyle at the four slot because I believe that the running game is going to be more of a key than the passing game. Orton is going to get his yards and he is going to spread the ball around but he is going to have to score in the red zone. Kyle has a decent matchup against the Raiders defense but they have a pretty good corner that could possibly take away one side of the field. Brandon Lloyd is not going to have much room to operate but the Broncos have so many options that that won’t matter much. Orton needs to make quick reads and make safe throws. Turnovers will be the only way that the Raiders hang around in this game.
The offensive line needs to step up big in this game. They need to open up holes for the Denver running backs and they need to keep Orton clean. I think that McDaniels might have finally settled on an offensive line that is going to start the game now so hopefully that group can begin to gel. I thought that they did a very nice job against the Jets last week. This week it is going to be important that they continue to improve.
Knowshon needs to come up big in this game. He showed promise against the Jets. He has a very favorable matchup against the Raiders. Knowshon has a chance to show everyone why he was the #12 pick in the draft in 2009. He needs to hit the hole running and he needs to hold on to the ball! This has always been a problem for Moreno. My opinion is that Maroney should never touch the ball again. He dances too much and if a defenders lays a finger on him he will fall over. Moreno showed that he is clearly the Broncos best tailback. This week I believe that Knowshon posts his first career 100+ yard game.
I think that the Broncos will stay in the 4-3 defense throughout most of the contest on Sunday because of the injuries on defense. It worked fairly well against the Jets. With the Raiders looking to run the ball, these linebackers are going to have to be tackling machines. The Raiders are going to want to keep the ball out of the hands of the quarterback but if they have to throw it, Zach Miller is their biggest target. It will be up to the linebackers to cover Miller and they are going to have to shut him down. All of these reasons make the Broncos linebackers the #1 key to the game. Shut down the run and Miller and you shut down the Raiders.
I believe that the Broncos are going to come into this game with a huge chip on their shoulder after the loss to the Jets. The crowd is going to be loud and the Broncos offense is going to be dominating. I believe that they will score in the red zone when they have chances.
Broncos 34, Raiders 10
Moreno goes for over 100 yards
Orton throws for over 250 yards and has three touchdowns, no picks.
Broncos score a defensive touchdown for the first time in 2010.