The Oakland Raiders return home to take on the Denver Broncos after a tough last-second 22-20 defeat against the Chicago Bears.
The Broncos are on top of the AFC West at an undefeated 4-0 while the Raiders are second in the division after falling to 2-2.
Like the Raiders, Denver went through an offseason coaching change as they hired Gary Kubiak to take over the team and implement his offense. The offense got off to a shaky start this season but future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning has his offense rolling again.
The high-powered offense has posted over 24 points a game this season and Manning has thrown for 968 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions. The Raiders secondary must keep an eye on Manning’s top target, Demaryius Thomas, who has 33 receptions for 361 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders is a dangerous wide receiver, especially on third down, and has 25 catches for 307 yards and two touchdowns.
The Broncos will likely look to use quick passes, but the Raiders front seven must find a way to take advantage of a hobbled Denver offensive line and get to Manning to either sack him or disrupt the plays. The Broncos line has given up 10 sacks to go along with another 27 quarterback hits this year. Pass rushers Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith could have a strong day.
The Raiders defense will need to contain the Broncos running game to give the pass rushers the opportunity to get to the quarterback. Former Cal running back C.J. Anderson has had a rough season thus far and is giving more carries to former San Diego State star Ronnie Hillman, who has 191 rushing yards on 39 carries and two touchdowns.
John Elway has changed the building of his team to a team that now features a strong defense which is headed by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. Phillips’ defense is allowing just 275.5 yards per game, good enough to be the top defense in the league through four games.
Raiders second-year quarterback Derek Carr will need to have a solid day going up against cornerback Aqib Talib and a Broncos secondary that is giving up just 185.3 net passing yards a game. It will be another good test for rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper, who has already had a solid season going against some pretty tough competition.
Denver also possesses a strong pass rush that has already racked up 18 sacks this season. Veteran DeMarcus ware leads the team with 4.5 sacks. The Raiders offensive line must continue to do a good job keeping Carr off of his back.
The Raiders need running back Latavius Murray to bounce back from a difficult game where he had two turnovers. Though the Broncos are allowing just 80 yards per game on the ground, there will be some running room if Carr can get the passing game going forcing them to thin out their linebackers.
With a win, the Raiders can come within one game of the top of the AFC West while heading into their week six bye.