Game Plan and Match-Ups v. Raiders

Check out the game plan and match-ups for Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

SERIES HISTORY: 101st regular-season meeting. Raiders lead series, 57-41-12. The Broncos have won the last two games at the Oakland Alameda Coliseum but are coming off a 59-14 whooping in the Oct. 24 meeting in Denver.

GAME PLAN: The Broncos have tried 4-3 and 3-4 looks this season to try to cure its ills vs. the run. But either way, it comes down to better tackling and gap control, two items that have been spotty the entire season -- including late vs. Arizona.

The Broncos may adjust their defensive front to account for Oakland's heavy formations designed to get Darren McFadden to the edge. McFadden had runs of 40, 12, 19, 16 and 57 in the first game against Denver, running behind pulling guards and the additional line help from tackle Khalif Barnes, aligned in the tight end position.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Raiders RB Darren McFadden, who ran for 165 yards and three TDs in the first meeting, vs. The Edge: No, not U2's lead guitarist, the outside edge of the defense, which has been the Holy Grail for opposing running backs looking for running room. McFadden on Oct. 24 had five runs over 10 yards (40, 12, 19, 16, 57). Oakland went heavy with an extra tackle in place of a tight end to cap the line of scrimmage and mauled Denver's defensive ends and outside linebackers to create space for McFadden. It's clear Denver will align extra defenders in the box to stop McFadden. But after then-31st ranked Arizona gained 213 rushing yards, again to the outside, there isn't much hope that containment won't again be an issue.

Broncos QB Kyle Orton vs. the specter of Tim Tebow: Orton has had his two worst games back-to-back for Denver, completing 28 of 69 passes (40 percent) for zero touchdowns, three interceptions, five sacks and a long pass of 28 yards. Part of the reason is defensive approach. Teams are flooding defenders to take away the deep passing game or coming at Denver hard with blitzes. But Orton, who has battled rib issues, at times has looked like a pitcher with a tired arm. The zip he demonstrated early in the season has lost a few MPH. It's incumbent on Orton to show well Sunday or Tebow could get the starting nod Dec. 26 at home vs. Houston.

INJURY IMPACT: S Brian Dawkins (knee) has not practiced since Nov. 26 but has not officially been ruled out Sunday. David Bruton has been playing in Dawkins' spot the last three games.

--WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle) didn't work out Wednesday and it appears unlikely he'll be ready to play this week. Eric Decker will continue to get snaps in Thomas' absence.

--K Matt Prater continues to rehabilitate his right groin injury but, at this moment, Steven Hauschka is expected to kick Sunday.

--S David Bruton (ribs) missed Wednesday's practice and if he's unable to play, Darcel McBath likely would get the call. McBath has been battling a thigh injury for several weeks but was a full practice participant.

--FB Spencer Larsen (hamstring) was back at practice after missing all last week and the Arizona game.



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