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Take 2: Broncos vs. Raiders (ESPN insider)

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  • Take 2: Broncos vs. Raiders (ESPN insider)

    The Broncos might have the most balanced offense in the NFL (though they might get an argument from the Seattle Seahawks). Denver's running game is unparalleled, as it controls the clock and tempo of the game with its famous zone-blocking scheme by handing the ball to the physical Mike Anderson and explosive Tatum Bell.

    These running backs complement each other extremely well and are better players with the help they receive from one another. Bell cannot handle the huge number of carries that the Broncos running game demands, but his home-run ability is a dimension that makes this offense exceptional. Anderson's toughness and between-the-tackles power opens space up for Bell and QB Jake Plummer on play-action and rollout passes.

    These two running backs keep one another fresh and on top of their game. Having Anderson fresh at the end of the game is a huge asset -- his physical style is a lot for a tired defensive unit to slow down. This running attack gives Plummer a lot of options with favorable second- and third-down distances. Oakland must stay gap-sound to reduce cutback lanes and big plays, but if Oakland cannot run the ball on offense and keep Denver's offense off the field, its defensive front is sure to be exhausted by the fourth quarter.

    • The Raiders need a huge game from LaMont Jordan. Expect him to have the ball in his hands for a large portion of Oakland's offensive snaps and to catch quite a few short, ball-control passes to slow down the Broncos' pass rush.

    Denver is fifth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed at only 88.2 yards per game, so Oakland may need to throw to set up its running game. If Oakland spreads the field and has QB Kerry Collins make very quick decisions on screens, slants and quick hook routes, Oakland could get into a rhythm and open room in the running game for Jordan. Spreading the field with multiple receiver sets gets Oakland's most talented personnel on the field, and quick throws should keep Collins upright and take defenders out of the box. This helps Jordan due to his physical running style. He can break arm tackles on the first level and quickly get into the secondary.

    In Denver's nickel package, D.J. Williams, one of the most talented linebackers in the NFL, leaves the field and is replaced by Sam Brandon, who isn't nearly the football player Williams is. Just in those terms, multiple-receiver sets favor the Raiders, and this grouping could really help their running game.

    • Denver has favorable matchups with their wide receivers against Oakland's cornerbacks. CB Charles Woodson is out, and Renaldo Hill is questionable for this matchup against WRs Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie. That will leave first-round picks Fabian Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha as the starting corners on Sunday. Asomugha is also battling a rib injury.

    Washington will probably get the assignment of slowing down Smith. Washington's abilities are obvious -- he has elite speed, quick feet and can snap his hips around very well. Smith is an exceptional route-runner and makes every route look the same, which will give the rookie fits. Washington is less physical than Smith and will get shielded by the veteran and boxed out when the ball is in the air. If Washington gets overly aggressive, Smith still has the ability to make him pay deep. Smith is going to be very difficult for the rookie to handle.

    Asomugha is a bigger corner who some feel is better suited to be playing free safety. Lelie is a true burner who could run past Asomugha for a long TD. Oakland's safeties must help their young corners to eliminate big plays, but this of course plays into Denver's hands and adds to the chances of success from Denver's vaunted running attack.

    • Randy Moss might get back to his old self against Denver's 29th-ranked pass defense, which is allowing an average of 244.5 yards through the air per game. Moss has not looked healthy over the past few weeks but is reportedly moving around much better and could exploit Champ Bailey and his nagging hamstring.

    Don't discount all the Terrell Owens talk in the news this week, either. A guy like Moss could explode when another elite receiver is stealing all the headlines. Moss is the X-factor who can make the Raiders' offense amongst the best in the league, because his home-run ability can certainly open up the running game for Jordan and free up fellow receiver Jerry Porter, who has begun to come on while Moss has been injured.

    The Broncos' rookie corners -- Darrent Williams, Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth -- could have their hands full dealing with Porter and the Raiders' third and fourth receivers, Alvis Whitted and Doug Gabriel. If Randy Moss can be Randy Moss, Denver's secondary will allow big plays down the field.

    • Denver's defensive front seven might be the best group in the NFL. No team in the league has linebackers on par with the extremely athletic group in Denver. All three cover a ton of ground against both the run and pass equally well and run to the ball with aggression and suddenness. The collective weakness of this group is its ability to take on big blockers repeatedly, as they are a shade undersized and are at their best when protected. Denver's defensive line protects this group of playmakers very well.

    Denver's starting front four is massive and powerful and demands a lot of attention from opposing blocking schemes. No team running the 4-3 scheme has defensive ends the size of Courtney Brown and Trevor Pryce, who moves all over the defensive front to find the most disruptive mismatch in Denver's favor. Pryce is a special player who is equally effective playing end or tackle. Brown is a huge end who controls the line of scrimmage with his very long arms and powerful frame.

    Former Browns DTs Gerard Warren and Michael Myers are playing very well within the system and doing a nice job of playing stout in the middle of the field and allowing the linebackers to flow to the ball carrier.

    • QB Collins needs to play mistake-free football this week. Before last week, Collins had done an excellent job securing the football and limiting turnovers, but he had a costly fumble and an interception that led to a Kansas City touchdown last week. Over the course of Collins' career, he has earned the reputation of making costly turnovers and has also played poorly against Denver in particular.

    The Broncos are among the league leaders with a plus-nine turnover ratio and do an excellent job of getting the ball in the hands of their defenders. The Raiders desperately need Collins to rebound from last week's performance to keep this game close and keep Denver's offense from having a short field, which they are sure to exploit.

    • QB Plummer is playing very well. He seems to finally feel comfortable in Mike Shanahan's offense and fully understands what is expected of him. Most importantly, he is making very few mistakes and is allowing Denver's weapons and running attack to make his life easier. His impressive 12-to-3 TD/INT ratio speaks volumes about what Plummer has accomplished this season. Plummer is a legitimate MVP candidate.

    Plummer excels using play action and on rollouts. He freezes defenses in the passing game and allows his receivers an extra second to gain separation. Oakland would love to bring heavy outside pressure to contain Plummer, but their defensive ends are banged up, and they don't have a second pass rusher to complement Derrick Burgess, who is sure to garner extra attention in Denver's pass blocking schemes.

    • Oakland's defense is beat up, and the Raiders do not have proper depth to deal with it effectively. Against a physical running attack, they are sure to get worn down, especially if their offense can't run the ball and limit Denver's time of possession. Woodson is out with a broken fibula. DE Bobby Hamilton (ankle) and CB Hill (hip) are questionable. Jarrod Cooper (hamstring), DeLawrence Grant (ankle), CB Asomugha (ribs) and Tommy Kelly (ankle) are all banged up as well. Although it sounds as though Kelly will play, this leaves the Raiders painfully thin at defensive end, not a good situation against the zone-running scheme and rollout quarterback they are to face.

    Special Teams
    The Raiders have the best set of specialists in the NFL. PK Sebastian Janikowski has hit his last 10 kicks in a row, including a 32-, 49- and 48-yarder at Kansas City. He is an excellent kickoff guy and has a huge leg. P Shane Lechler has a 50-plus-yard punt in 28 straight games. He is a Pro Bowl caliber punter with a monster leg as well.

    The Raiders' Chris Carr is doing a great job returning kicks. He is seventh in the NFL with a 25.1-yard average, including a 62-yarder. He shows no fear with the ball in his hands and is very quick to get up the field. But he has not excelled as a punt returner, averaging only 5.8 per return. Carr isn't shifty or elusive enough to make the first tackler miss as a punt returner. Many people think returning kickoffs and punts are very similar, but in the NFL, bigger, aggressive guys who can break arm tackles and are quick to get upfield make the best kick returners, while nifty, smaller guys with sure hands excel returning punts. There are only a few returners out there that do both equally well.
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  • #2
    Scouts' Edge

    Denver is coming off a crucial bye week that has allowed their players to heal and rest before traveling to Oakland for this divisional rivalry. Meanwhile, Oakland is a battered football team coming off a heartbreaking last-second loss to the hated Chiefs. Denver, as always, will run the football all afternoon, and this rushing attack is sure to wear down the battered Raiders' defense, allowing Denver to break long runs in the second half.

    Both of Denver's losses have come on the road, and the Broncos need to assert themselves better as a road team to secure their spot as a top AFC contender. They will assert themselves in this road game and come out of Oakland with a win in hand without a lot of resistance.

    Prediction: Broncos 28, Raiders 17
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    • #3
      Great read, thanks.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by bronc_fan23
        The Broncos' rookie corners -- Darrent Williams, Karl Paymah and Domonique Foxworth -- could have their hands full dealing with Porter and the Raiders' third and fourth receivers, Alvis Whitted and Doug Gabriel. If Randy Moss can be Randy Moss, Denver's secondary will allow big plays down the field.
        I've seen all but the Washington game and as far as I remember the Broncos have only given up a handful of big plays. Maybe I'm just not remembering them but from what I do remember they've done a good job preventing the big play.

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        • #5
          The Raiders are going to pass ALL DAY against the Broncos. Like it was stated in the article, the Broncos front 7 rocks, their secondary is a little suspect, and the Raiders have great receivers, and a deep-ball quarterback. Is Champ for sure playing? He better, the Broncos will need him.

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          • #6
            Really? Because I just saw the Raiders try and pass against the WORST pass defense in the LEAGUE last week when facing the Chiefs. NOT ONLY are the CHiefs the worst pass defense in the NFL... they were even missing Surtain and their starting safety. So you had the worst pass defense, missing two starters, and you guys couldn't "pass all day" against THEM. What on EARTH makes you actually believe you are going to "pass all day" against us? We are going to make that scaredy-cat QB of yours RUN for his life. I've never seen a QB turn and run backwards likes Collins does! That guy is TRULY chicken!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ravage!!!
              Really? Because I just saw the Raiders try and pass against the WORST pass defense in the LEAGUE last week when facing the Chiefs. NOT ONLY are the CHiefs the worst pass defense in the NFL... they were even missing Surtain and their starting safety. So you had the worst pass defense, missing two starters, and you guys couldn't "pass all day" against THEM. What on EARTH makes you actually believe you are going to "pass all day" against us? We are going to make that scaredy-cat QB of yours RUN for his life. I've never seen a QB turn and run backwards likes Collins does! That guy is TRULY chicken!
              I wasn't implying the Raiders would have success passing the ball "all day" against the Broncos, I merely stated they would pass it, regardless of success. That said, the Broncos don't have a powerhouse pass defense either, at 27th in the league. Champ Bailey is injured, and Randy Moss is less injured week after week, he'll be near 100% this week, a point he was no where near last week, as shown by his play. The main (and probably only) reason the Raiders didn't have massive success passing against the Chiefs was Kerry Collins. He had his first off game of the year. He's played extremely well every other game this year, and I expect him to do so against the Broncos.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Hells Bells
                I wasn't implying the Raiders would have success passing the ball "all day" against the Broncos, I merely stated they would pass it, regardless of success. That said, the Broncos don't have a powerhouse pass defense either, at 27th in the league. Champ Bailey is injured, and Randy Moss is less injured week after week, he'll be near 100% this week, a point he was no where near last week, as shown by his play. The main (and probably only) reason the Raiders didn't have massive success passing against the Chiefs was Kerry Collins. He had his first off game of the year. He's played extremely well every other game this year, and I expect him to do so against the Broncos.

                I think our pass defense "ranking" is misleading. Most teams have been behind throughout the game against us. They aare having a hard time running, thus HAVING to throw the ball a ton. Washington, NE, and PHILLY.. all they did was throw the ball. SO I believe our "pass ranking" (I think rankings are ridiculous by the way)... is skewed.

                Actually... Champ is probably healthier than Moss.. from my understanding. I didn't see moss being anything near to being healthy last week. Champ has had two weeks to rest his pain.

                No matter. We'll see. I think the Broncos will put more pressure on Collins than the CHiefs did. I think Collins will play better than he did against the Chiefs. But I think the Bronco defense is much better than the Chiefs is...I also know the Bronco offense is running on more cylinders than the Chiefs is as well. They looked just as pathetic last week against you guys. Green had the worst game I've ever seen him play. I'm just saying that I don't think much of the Raiders team.

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the Read
                  RIP D-Will you'll be missed

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hells Bells
                    I wasn't implying the Raiders would have success passing the ball "all day" against the Broncos, I merely stated they would pass it, regardless of success. That said, the Broncos don't have a powerhouse pass defense either, at 27th in the league. Champ Bailey is injured, and Randy Moss is less injured week after week, he'll be near 100% this week, a point he was no where near last week, as shown by his play. The main (and probably only) reason the Raiders didn't have massive success passing against the Chiefs was Kerry Collins. He had his first off game of the year. He's played extremely well every other game this year, and I expect him to do so against the Broncos.

                    Champ needs to sit out until hes completely healed and let the Rookies play or Moss and Porter will have a good day sunday. Other Bronco fans are overlooking the fact that Champ has been getting burn lately due to his hamstring injury. all you need to do is watch all the sports shows for all the replays. It wouldn't hurt Coyer to play the Rookies and use more zone this week either for two reasons.

                    1. everybody is starting to scheme against our blitzes (show blitz but back into coverage to cause more turnovers).

                    2. To let Champ gets some much needed rest to finish healing his hamstring.

                    If T.O. shook Champ out his cleats Moss and Porter will break his ankles.

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                    • #11
                      champ doesnt need to sit out

                      he's fine

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sportsgeist
                        Champ needs to sit out until hes completely healed and let the Rookies play or Moss and Porter will have a good day sunday. Other Bronco fans are overlooking the fact that Champ has been getting burn lately due to his hamstring injury. all you need to do is watch all the sports shows for all the replays. It wouldn't hurt Coyer to play the Rookies and use more zone this week either for two reasons.

                        1. everybody is starting to scheme against our blitzes (show blitz but back into coverage to cause more turnovers).

                        2. To let Champ gets some much needed rest to finish healing his hamstring.

                        If T.O. shook Champ out his cleats Moss and Porter will break his ankles.

                        He Held T.O. to ZILCH before the broken tackle TD. Champ is fine.. this is NOT the game for him to miss. Not when you are playing a division rival, NOT when you only have a ONE game lead in the division. SItting your best players to give them some "extra" time... so they can help heal their pain, just doesn't make logical sense. Not when you MUST win now... not later.

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                        • #13
                          Champ practiced hard all week for the first time in a long while. I expect him to be near 100% this week. Moss is hurting much more than Champ at this point.
                          Where does the abuse of end? Where?

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