Denver Broncos in a Must-Win Game in Oakland

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst ISeptember 27, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 8:  Running back Justin Fargas #25 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during the NFL game against the Denver Broncos on September 8, 2008 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 41-14. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Like it or not Donkey Fans, Denver is in a must win situation on Sunday, against a team that is playing their third straight divisional game, and has good confidence going into a home game.

Why is it a must-win? It’s a must-win situation because their schedule is brutal after the game at Oakland. They play Dallas, New England, at San Diego, at Baltimore, Pittsburgh, at Washington, San Diego, and the New York Giants in a row before they visit the Chiefs.

The fans just can’t help but talk themselves up after a lackluster performance at Cincinnati, and their 11th straight home opening win against Cleveland. What makes their team so special?

You can’t argue with stats, right? Denver is ranked first in points given up this year, allowing only 13 points. They are second in yards allowed, which has their fans praising Mike Nolan.

What they may realize, but fail to mention in their articles is that Oakland’s defense is much improved as well. Oakland defense was on the field against Kansas City, in Kansas City, for 38-plus minutes, and only allowed 10 points.

Still, Denver fans will insist that they can run to glory against this defense. They say that running against Richard Seymour and Greg Ellis is a surefire way to slow down the pass rush. I think that it is running game suicide and three and out series' waiting to happen.

Denver fans are also quick to point out that Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell is a bust in progress. However, their head coach disagrees.

Josh McDaniels has been quick to point out JaMarcus has the highest average per completion in the league, at 16.6 yards per completion.

He also is bright enough to realize that some of the blame falls on the shoulders of Oakland’s rookie pass catchers, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy. While both have blazing speed, 4.25-40 and 4.32-40 respectively, McDaniels states that wide receiver is a tough transition in the NFL.

“That's a hard position (WR) to come into the league and just immediately play, do all the little things well, because you see so many things you don't see in college football," Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said.

While JaMarcus is willing to throw himself under the bus, with the understanding that when things get good, he will be the one taking credit, he is also saying that he will intentionally throw balls away, and let the superstar punter Shane Lechler do his job while his receivers progress.

Many people are calling Russell out, saying his accuracy is to blame, and that “you can’t teach accuracy.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Right from the time JaMarcus was drafted, though they said he needed to work on his footwork, draft experts said that one of his strengths as a passer was “accuracy and touch.” One even said his physical skill set was “the best I’ve ever seen in my life.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0VxSOCXTjE

JaMarcus completed 61.2 percent of his passes down the stretch of the final seven games in 2008, and that includes a 35.7 percent performance in his final 2008 game against KC. Eerily similar to his numbers this year. In that game, he was 10 for 28 passing, while in his last effort against KC, he was 7 for 24.

If history is telling of the future, then JaMarcus should have a great game against Denver. I know Donkey fans will dispute this, because their defense is "so improved" this year. Last season, JaMarcus was nearly flawless in both games against the Broncos.

In the two games combined, he threw 27 completions in 37 attempts (78.1 percent), had 332 yards, had three touchdowns and no picks, and had a QB rating of 130.1.

The fact that the Donkey fans even have the fortitude to call JaMarcus out is something you have to give them credit for.

However, when they say that the Oakland secondary is no match for the Broncos wide receivers, that’s where I draw the line.

To say that Champ Bailey is as good as Nnamdi Asomugha may not be an overstatement, but to compare Chris Johnson to Andre Goodman is no match. The Broncos used to have Dre Bly, maybe you could make that argument, but Goodman is no Johnson.

Johnson is one of the most underrated DB’s in the league, so you can’t blame Donkey followers for making a mistake like this.

In game one against Oakland in 2008, Eddie Royal smoked DeAngelo Hall for nine catches, 146 yards, and a touchdown.

In game two, man to man against Chris Johnson, Royal had just two catches for 14 yards. This year, Royal is an under-achiever, with only five catches for 38 yards against two of the worst defenses in the NFL last season.

In addition to this, Johnson was ranked seventh on WalterFootball.com's list of free agent defensive backs earlier this year. That was before he set his season goal to make the Pro Bowl this year.

Pony fans are also always quick to jump on the Brandon Stokley bandwagon when you point out the flaws of Brandon Marshall and Royal. Stokley is a great possession receiver, and I will not deny him that accreditation.

However, if you think he has the skills necessary to be your best receiver against Oakland on Sunday, I will tell you I hope you're right. He will get nine catches for 45 yards and one touchdown.

I don’t think there is any need to address the reversal; I can attest that our receivers will probably not beat the Broncos' defensive backs.

Our defensive line is superior to theirs, in spite of what you’ve heard from the pony riders. They will tell you that Elvis Dumervil is better than our entire line, and he has four sacks. The part they *DUH* don’t realize is that Dumervil actually is playing outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Mike Nolan’s scheme.

Speaking of Linebackers, donkey fans would want you to believe that Andre Davis, the Cleveland Browns reject is better in the middle than Kirk Morrison. They say, “Davis compiled 90 tackles last season, and is looking solid in the middle.”

Ha, I laughed when I read it too. Oakland’s middle linebacker, Kirk Morrison has averaged 124 tackles since his rookie season.

For you pony riders who have no math skills, that is 34 more than Davis had last year in a 4-3 scheme like Morrison. It is also 57 more than Davis had the year before that, playing in all 16 games.

Thomas Howard is greater than or equal to DJ Williams. Williams has averaged 98 tackles a year as a Bronco. Howard has averaged 100 tackles a year as a Raider. This year Howard has 17 tackles, Williams has 15.

As far as linebackers go, you pony riders don’t really have another worth mentioning, although you are supposed to have four. We have Ricky Brown, who is a very passionate player, with a strong skill set, who can lay the wood and bring the pain.

Your halfbacks are a group of journeymen, and a rookie, who may not play because of a bad groin. Our halfbacks are widely considered one of the best young groups in the entire league.

Like it or not donkey’s, or pony riders, or whatever it is you are calling yourselves these days, Oakland is just as good, or better than your team.

They are also as well coached as your team, as well as they are playing their third straight divisional game, and it is at home.

This game will be closer than you’d like to think, or even admit.


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