The Oakland Raiders head back out on the road after having their playoff hopes severely damaged in the late 34-to-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now the Raiders head to Denver to take on the AFC West leading Denver Broncos, a roster that has changed since the two teams last met when the Raiders fell 16-10 on Oct. 11.
Future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning is out with a foot injury, giving way to the young Brock Osweiler as the starting quarterback. Osweiler has completed 61 percent of his throws for 832 yards, five touchdwons and three interceptions. Osweiler is a tall quarterback with a good arm, and has shown potential as Manning's backup.
The team's leading receiver is still wide receiver Damaryius Thomas, who has hauled in 78 receptions for 972 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas has always been a tough wide receiver to cover because of his size and speed, and the Raiders secondary will need to make sure they bring him down quickly.
Thomas is flanked by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who is just as dangerous with the ball in his hands after the catch. Sanders is speedy, and has brought in 55 receptions for 771 yards and four touchdowns. The Broncos like to go to quick wide receiver screens, much like the Chiefs used to burn the secondary last week. The Raiders must do a better job tackling if they want to be better in defending the bubble screens.
Gary Kubiak and his offense have struggled rushing the ball, turning to a running back by committee after a slow start with C.J. Anderson as the starting running back. It's former San Diego State running back Ronnie Hillman that leads the Broncos ground attack, totaling 643 yards on 157 carries with a team-leadig six touchdowns. Hillman is a smaller, speedy back that is also a solid pass catcher. The Raiders linebackers must keep an eye on the running back as the Broncos like to throw it to them as well.
Second-year quarterback Derek Carr is coming off of one of his worst performances, throwing three interceptions in the fourth quarter against the Chiefs. And things won't be easier this week as the Raiders offense will face one of the league's top defenses that is headed by defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. The Broncos defense is allowing just 17.5 points per game, the second best in the league.
Cornerback Aqib Talib heads the league-best passing defense, giving up only 195.6 net passing yards per game. Talib has three picks, while Denver has 11 overall, leading to 23 turnovers on the season (3rd most in the NFL).
Denver and the Broncos also boast one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, sacking opposing quarterbacks 41 times - a number that leads the league by a margin of five sacks. Linebacker Von Miller leads the team with nine sacks, while DeMarcus Ware has 6.5 of his own. Raiders left tackle Donald Penn and the Raiders offensive line must keep Carr off of his back in order to allow the passing game to develop.
The Raiders hope to get one game closer to .500, while also halting an eight-game losing streak to the Denver Broncos.
The Silver & Black will return home for two home games, starting with the Green Bay Packers next week.