Key Matchups Against the Raiders

The Denver Broncos have blitzed a lot this season but doing so against the Raiders would be risky. Oakland has three big, physical receivers that are tough to handle in one-on-one coverage and blitzing would put the cornerbacks on an island most of the time. Read about the game plan and key matchups against the Raiders

GAME PLAN: The Broncos have blitzed a lot this season but doing so against the Raiders would be risky. Oakland has three big, physical receivers that are tough to handle in one-on-one coverage and blitzing would put the cornerbacks on an island most of the time. When the Broncos do blitz they have to rattle Kerry Collins and force some turnovers.

Offensively the Broncos will take shots downfield against Oakland's banged up secondary. Denver's deep passing game and the running game play off of each other - if the Raiders commit an extra man in the box to stop the run, the Broncos will use plenty of play-action passes. If the Raiders back up and respect the pass, Denver will bludgeon them with the run game.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Broncos CB Champ Bailey vs. Raiders WR Randy Moss - Months ago, this looked like one of the premier one-on-one matchups in the NFL this season. But Bailey hasn't been healthy because of a hamstring injury, and Moss has been limited by injuries as well. This will still be an important matchup - Moss caught only one pass last week but it was the go-ahead touchdown in the final two minutes - but it won't be the elite matchup it could have been.

Raiders S's Stuart Schweigert and Jarrod Cooper vs. Broncos offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak - Schweigert and Cooper will have to keep an eye on Denver's deep passing game, which not only includes receivers Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie but also athletic tight end Jeb Putzier, but also provide run support. The guessing game between the Raiders safeties and Broncos play-callers Kubiak and head coach Mike Shanahan will be interesting to watch unfold.

INJURY IMPACT: CB Champ Bailey is as close to 100 percent as he has been since early in the season. The Broncos will breathe easier, however, when he makes it through a couple games in a row without a setback to his injured hamstring.

S Sam Brandon should return this week. He has been practicing through a partially torn pectoral muscle and is listed as probable on the injury report.



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