Inside The Matchup: Broncos vs. Raiders

The Broncos take to the road this week to take on the Raiders in a huge battle for AFC West supremacy. As one of the NFL's most storied rivalries, we go inside the matchup.

For 112th time in the history of the matchup, the (6-2) Denver Broncos will take on the (6-2) Oakland Raiders. This time around, the Broncos will travel to the Black Hole to battle for supremacy in the AFC West on Sunday Night Football (NBC). 

The rivalry between Denver and Oakland dates back more than fifty years, back to the old AFL days, before the American Football League merged with the National Football League in 1970. The late Oakland owner Al Davis was instrumental in merging the AFL with the NFL. 

For a long time, the Denver-Oakland rivalry has been somewhat dormant. It's hard to gin up antipathy toward one another when one team hasn't finished above .500 for more than a decade. The last time Oakland was above .500 was in 2003 when they lost the Super Bowl to Tampa. 

Meanwhile, the Broncos have won the AFC West six times since 2003, including five-straight Division titles. Of course, the Broncos have also been in three AFC Championship games since then, winning two of them and a Super Bowl last year. 

http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1723939-5-ways-broncos-can-improv... In fact, the Broncos have been so dominant in-division over the last five seasons, going 26-7, that no NFL team has had a better Divisional winning percentage (.788) over that time span. The Broncos are currently tied with Oakland for the longest Championship streak in AFC West history (Oak 1972-76). 

All-time, the Broncos are 49-60-2 vs. the Raiders. For many years, the Raiders "Just Win, Baby" mantra, coined by Al Davis, set the standard of excellence in the NFL and the AFC West. 

Both teams own three Lombardi Trophies. The Raiders are 3-1 in the Super Bowl, while the Broncos are 3-5. The Broncos have been to the Super Bowl twice as often as the Raiders, but Oakland has the better winning percentage in the NFL title game — although they haven't won a Lombardi Trophy since 1983.

For all of these reasons, including the fact that the Broncos are the defending Champions, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr remains deferential. 

"The road to win the division goes through them," Carr said this week via ESPN. "The road to the Super Bowl goes through them. They're on top. Everyone wants to crown us because we haven't won for so long and now we are (winning). But we are not on top. We respect everybody, but fear no one."

So, let's go inside the matchup and examine some of the interesting factoids, storylines and numbers that make this AFC West showdown so compelling. First, let's examine how the two teams compare statistically halfway through the season. 

Offense

Broncos Raiders
Net Yards Per Game (NFL Rank) 326.4 (27th) 401.6 (5th)
Yards Per Play (NFL Rank) 5.2 (25th) 6.1 (5th)
Points Per Game (NFL Rank) 24.3 (13th) 26.9 (6th)
Possession Average 29:06 30:59
Net Rushing Yards Per Game 104.8 (20th) 116.5 (8th)
Net Passing Yards Per Game. 221.6 (27th) 285.1 (4th)
Had Intercepted/Yards 5/48 3/5
Sacks Allowed/Yards 18/107 9/40
Fumbles/Lost 12/6 7/3
Third Down Pct. (NFL Rank) 35.9% (25th) 37.9% (21st)
Red Zone TD Pct. (NFL Rank) 50.0% (T-19th)  73.9% (1st)
Giveaways 11 6
Turnover Margin (NFL Rank) +5 (6th) +7 (4th)

Analysis: As you can see, the Raiders have a clear advantage offensively. The Broncos consistently rank in the bottom third of the league, while the Raiders are in the top-10, with the exception of third down percentage. 

Defense

Broncos Raiders
Net Yards Per Game (NFL Rank) 301.3 (3rd) 410.4 (31st)
Yards Per Play (NFL Rank) 4.5 (1st) 6.4 (32nd)
Points Per Game (NFL Rank) 17.0 (4th) 25.4 (14th)
Net Rushing Yards Per Game 117.4 (24th) 125.0 (28th)
Net Passing Yards Per Game. 183.9 (1st) 285.4 (T-27th)
Intercepted By/Yards 8/184 7/100
Sacks For/Yards 26/148 11/57
Opponent Fumbles/Lost 11/8 16/6
Third Down Pct. (NFL Rank) 37.6% (10th) 34.0% (4th)
Red Zone TD Pct. (NFL Rank) 50.0% (T-6th)  52.7% (13th)
Takeaways 16 13

Analysis: Here, the advantage gets flipped on it's ear, as we see the Broncos are head and shoulders above Oakland defensively. Denver's biggest area of weakness, which Oakland will try to exploit, is rushing defense. 

Special Teams

Broncos Raiders
Punts-Average Yards (Gross) 46.6 49.0
Punts-Average Yards (Net) 42.2 42.0
Punt Returns-Average Per 9.8 11.0
Punt Returns-Average Per Allowed 6.6 13.0
Kickoff Returns-Average Per 23.7 20.6
Kickoff Returns-Average Per Allowed 15.7 21.6
Field Goals Made/Attempted 16/18 13/18

Analysis: Oakland boasts one of the NFL's best punters in Marquette King, while the Broncos field a rookie in Riley Dixon. However, the Broncos lead in average net yards per punt. Each kicker has attempted 18 field goals. Brandon McManus has converted 88.8 percent, while Sebastian Janikowski has 72.2.

What To Watch For

• OLB Von Miller needs 1.5 sacks to join Simon Fletcher as the only two Broncos to post five 10-sack seasons.

• WR Emmanuel Sanders needs one reception to tie Eric Decker (222) for the 14th most catches in Broncos history.

• WR Demaryius Thomas needs two receptions to reach 500 for his career and become the fourth Bronco to reach that milestone.

• WR Demaryius Thomas needs 100 receiving yards to tie Calvin Johnson (34) for the most 100-yard receiving games in the NFL since 2011.

• OLB DeMarcus Ware needs a sack to tie Richard Dent and John Randle for the eighth-most sacks in NFL history; needs three sacks to tie Julius Peppers and Jason Taylor for sixth.

Orange Is The New Black

• The Denver Broncos own the most overtime wins in professional football history (28) with their .617 win percentage (28-17-2) ranking second alltime since the system was instituted in 1974.

• Denver has won a franchise-record 27 consecutive games when winning the turnover battle to represent the longest active streak in the NFL.

• The Broncos are just the fourth Super Bowl champion to open the following season with a different quarterback.

• Demaryius Thomas has topped 1,000 receiving yards in each of the last four seasons, joining Ring of Famer Rod Smith as the only players in franchise history to accomplish that feat.

• Demaryius Thomas owns the most receptions (53) and receiving touchdowns (6) in Broncos postseason history while ranking second in team playoff annals with 759 receiving yards.

• Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders have each topped 100 receiving yards in the same game six times since 2014 to lead all NFL receiving duos during that span.

• Emmanuel Sanders is tied for fifth in the NFL with 31 receptions covering 25 or more yards since he joined the Broncos in 2014.

Sharp Ends

• The Broncos have totaled nine total defensive touchdowns (6 INT returned, 3 FUM returned) since the start of the 2015 season, including playoffs, to tie for the most in the NFL during that span.

• The Broncos have given up an NFL-high 38 points during their opponents' eight initial drives this season (4.8 points/drive) to contribute to the team's -38 scoring differential (54-16) in the first quarter.

• Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller was selected to his fourth career Pro Bowl in 2015 to join Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little and Ring of Fame safety Steve Atwater as the only players to make four Pro Bowls in their first five seasons with the Broncos. 

• Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (70 total sacks in first 81 games) tied for the third-fastest player in NFL history to compile 70 quarterback takedowns.

• Von Miller ranks second in the NFL with 8.5 sacks through eight games this season.

• Von Miller ranks fifth in the NFL with 17 forced fumbles since he entered the league in 2011.

• Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware each rank in the Top 7 in NFL history (since 1982) in sacks per game among players who have appeared in 50 or more contests.

• DeMarcus Ware owns 136.5 career sacks rank 10th in NFL history and second among active players.

• Defensive end Derek Wolfe leads Denver and is tied for second in the NFL with 15 quarterback hits through eight games this season.

• Ray also became the first NFL player since John Henderson (Week 3 at CIN) to post a three-sack game in his first career start.

• Safety T.J. Ward ranks fourth among NFL defensive backs with 20 tackles for a loss since 2013—a total that includes 6.5 quarterback sacks and 13.5 run stuffs.

• Signed by the Broncos as a college free agent in 2011, cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. is one of just five undrafted cornerbacks in pro football history to make multiple Pro Bowls with his original team.

• Cornerback Aqib Talib is one of four NFL cornerbacks to make the Pro Bowl in each of the last three seasons.

• Aqib Talib has posted the most interceptions (33) by a cornerback in the league since he entered the NFL in 2008.

• Aqib Talib’s nine interceptions returned for a touchdown are tied for the fourth most in NFL history.

• Aqib Talib's five interceptions returned for a touchdown as a Bronco are the most in team history. 

• The Denver Broncos own the most overtime wins in professional football history (28) with their .617 win percentage (28-17-2) ranking second all-time since the system was instituted in 1974.

Situational Broncos (2016)

When leading after 1st quarter 0-0
When leading after 2nd quarter 5-0
When leading after 3rd quarter 5-0
When trailing after 1st quarter 4-2
When trailing after 2nd quarter 1-2
When trailing after 3rd quarter 1-2
When Denver scores first 2-0
When opponent scores first 4-2
When tied at the half 0-0
When Denver rushes for 100 yards 3-0
When opponent rushes for 100 yards 4-1
When winning turnover margin 4-0
When losing turnover margin 1-0
When Denver passes for 300 yards 1-0
When opponent passes for 300 yards 0-0
When winning the coin toss 2-2
When losing the coin toss 4-0
When scoring 20 or more points 6-0
When yielding 20 or more points 2-2

Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.

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