The Oakland Raiders host the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football this week in a battle for first place atop the AFC West.
Both teams currently possess a 6-2 record going into the week, meaning the winner of the game will hold sole possession of the division lead.
Quarterback Derek Carr is coming off of a record-setting performance against the Buccaneers where he threw for a Raiders-best 513 yards and four touchdowns, but the offense will have a much more difficult task this week.
Overall, the Broncos are allowing just 301 total yards per game (3rd in the NFL) but it's defending the pass where they really excel. Wade Phillips' defense is giving up just 183.9 passing yards per game, the number-one ranked passing defense in the league.
Carr will have to pay close attention of the locations of cornerbacks Chris Harris, Jr. and Aqib Talib, should he play. Talib has missed practice all week with a back injury and would be a crucial piece missing should he not be able to suit up and play. He is currently tied for 3rd in the NFL with three interceptions.
The Raiders offensive line has done a stellar job keeping Carr upright this season, but they will also face a tougher task this week as the Broncos bring in the best pass rushers in the league, ranking first in sacks. Their pass rush is led by sixth-year All-Pro outside linebacker Von Miller, who already has 8.5 sacks.
Conversely, the Broncos defense is vulnerable with the rushing attack. Denver is allowing 117.4 rushing yards per game, 24th in the NFL. It will be important for running back Latavius Murray and the Raiders rushing attack to get going to provide some relief to the passing game and get the play-action passes to work.
The Raiders defense has played better in recent weeks but is still giving up 410 total yards per game, second to last in the NFL.
The Broncos are no longer led by future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning but are now quarterbacked by former seventh-round pick Trevor Siemian. Through eight games, Siemian has thrown for eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders leads the Broncos in both catches (44) and yards (567), while big-bodied Demaryius Thomas leads the team with four touchdown receptions.
Cal alum and current Broncos running back C.J. Anderson was placed on the injured reserve, leaving the running game to Northern California native and rookie running back Devontae Booker. Booker has notched 298 yards on the ground this season while punching it into the end zone two times. Booker is a big back that can be difficult to tackle and the Raiders will have to make sure they use proper tackling technique to limit the yards after contact.
The Raiders will have their bye week after their big matchup against the Broncos, before heading to Mexico City to host the Houston Texans.