The Oakland Raiders 30-20 victory over the Denver Broncos put an authoritative stamp on first place in the AFC West. With the win on Sunday Night Football, Oakland emerges 7-2, while Denver falls to 6-3.
But the Raiders didn't just beat the Broncos. They embarrassed them.
And I say that in all seriousness.
The Broncos relinquished 218 yards on the ground, while only managing 33 of their own. Trevor Siemian and company went three-and-out on their first four possessions, finishing the night with six total.
The team may have just voted Siemian a team captain for the second half of the season, but that doesn't automatically make him a seasoned veteran. He is still the epitome of inexperience and cannot be expected to carry the offense.
I'm not excusing his performance. Rather, I'm pointing out that for Siemian to be successful, the Broncos have to strive for balance on offense. Opening the game with seven passes on the team's first nine plays isn't going to cut the mustard.
However one measures this game, in every statistical category and through the eye test, Oakland dominated. They were most literally the bully.
In what was easily the biggest game of the season, Gary Kubiak's squad was out-physicaled, out-executed, out-hustled and out-coached. For Denver to be so unprepared for a game of this magnitude is uncharacteristic of a Kubiak-led squad.
It's back to the drawing board for Denver. Sunday night's whimper of a performance proved that Kubiak can no longer expect his defense to bail out his sputtering offense on a weekly basis.
http://www.scout.com/nfl/broncos/story/1725226-broncos-melt-under-the-co... For the Broncos to seriously contend for another World Championship, this offense will have to make a positive difference on the outcome of each game — at some point. And it has to happen soon.
Defensive end Derek Wolfe left the game in Oakland with an elbow injury and didn't return. He has been the only difference maker on the defensive line defending the run. Denver's Achilles heel bit them on the rear end once again.
You can't win in this league with a defense that allows 100-plus yards per game and an offense that goes 3-of-11 on third down and doesn't even crack 40 yards rushing.
With 25 regular season games under his belt as Denver's head coach, Kubiak's offense has not shown any signs of improvement. That, more than anything, is what alarms me most at this point in the season.
Another game like this, and the pressure to put their second offensive captain on the bench might be too much to ignore. While Siemian struggles, Paxton Lynch is champing at the bit to take over.
Denver's saving grace is a relatively soft schedule for the next month of the season. Here's to hoping they can turn the ship around in time for a meaningful stretch run and a rematch with Oakland in Week 17 that has the potential to decide the AFC West crown.
Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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