With all of that being said, the Broncos come into the game severely banged up and are currently down to two healthy veteran cornerbacks in Chris Harris, Jr. and Bradley Roby against a high-flying Oakland passing attack, led by MVP candidate QB Derek Carr and impressive wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
The secondary is banged up in a big way, so it will be up to the pass rush to try and slow down the Oakland passing attack.
But that will be a difficult task as the Raiders spent a ton of money in the offseason to upgrade their offensive line, bringing in All-Pro caliber guard Kelechi Osemele to protect their star quarterback.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1724714-3-keys-to-victory-broncos... So far, so good, as Carr is fifth in the NFL in passing yards (2,321), eighth in completion percentage (66.3), fourth in yards per game (285.1) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (17) on the season.
Despite the high volume of passing attempts for Oakland, defenses have sacked Carr just nine times, which happens to be the best mark in the NFL.
While Oakland is known more for it’s explosive passing attack with Carr, Cooper and Crabtree, the Raiders have really dominated on the ground with Latavius Murray and rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard splitting carries this season.
Through eight weeks of the 2016 season, the Raiders sit eighth in rushing yards per game (116.5), sixth in yards per carry (4.8) and tied for 10th in rushing touchdowns (eight).
This is one of the most balanced offenses in the league, and capping everything off for the Raiders is the fact that Head Coach Jack Del Rio isn’t afraid to gamble in big spots, which has directly led to three big wins on the year.
All of that starts with having a terrific quarterback in Carr, who has really exploded onto the scene the last two years and has staked a claim as one of the top ten quarterbacks in the NFL.
Combining his rocket arm with tremendous decision making and a high football IQ, Carr is firing on all cylinders this season, leading the Raiders offense up and down the field consistently, as the Raiders currently average 26.9 points per game, good for sixth in the NFL.
As I said early, the Oakland attack is pass-first as Carr puts the ball in the air roughly 40 times a game, giving guys like Cooper, Crabtree and fellow receiver Seth Roberts and emerging tight end Clive Walford getting most of the work in the passing game.
The success has largely come due to play design. While that’s not a knock on Carr whatsoever, the design of each play is impressive, making for some easy throws for the third-year quarterback.
Week 7 at Jacksonville
Look at the lineup of the skill players here before the snap. Roberts is basically lined up as a tight end on this play, albeit standing up.
At the snap, Carr fakes the handoff to Murray, causing the Jacksonville linebackers and safeties to freeze for just a second, allowing Roberts to get behind the secondary for the big catch along the right sideline.
A big reason Oakland is able to have so much success on play action is due to the fact that they’re able to dominate up front on the ground more often than not.
Take a look at the movement generated up front off the ball by the Raiders’ interior linemen.
Guys like Gabe Jackson at right guard, Rodney Hudson at center and Osemale at left guard get a massive push through the interior of the Jacksonville front seven, allowing Murray to race untouched into the secondary, where he’s able to run through an arm tackle from a Jacksonville defender for the late touchdown to seal the win in Week 7.
This is a common occurrence in the running game for the Raiders.
Back to the passing game, though.
Week 8 at Tampa Bay
Again, a terrific play designed coupled with a great route from Mychal Rivera, allowing the backup tight end to get up the seam against a Tampa Bay linebacker for an explosive play.
And when they’re not hurting you through the air, they’ll get you on the ground.
Richard is the scat back that Oakland has needed for the last two years with Carr, and now that he’s finally in the fold the Raiders running game has really taken off.
Look at the vision and burst from the diminutive Richard here. As soon as he sees the cutback lane to his right, he plants his left foot and flies up the field for the big gain.
That’s pretty much the Oakland offense from my perspective. They do everything extremely well in all phases of the game, so the Denver front seven will have to focus on shutting down the run, forcing the Raiders to be one dimensional, which should allow guys like Von Miller, Shane Ray, DeMarcus Ware and Shaquil Barrett to tee off on tackles Donald Penn and Austin Howard in hopes of getting to Carr for some big sacks.
If the Broncos can’t slow down the run and put pressure on Carr, it could be a very long day for Denver.
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Josh Carney is a Featured Writer for Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @JCarney_Sports.