Three players to watch in Oakland

3. Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning has feasted on the Raiders since his arrival to Denver. He is 6-0 against the AFC West rival and owns a career passer rating of 103.8 in his 11 games versus them. The days of automatic 300-yard performances may be gone but the Raiders’ troubles against the pass and a key injury in the secondary, suggests that Manning should have another strong performance.

The only thing that may hold him back is the ongoing shuffling of players along his offensive line. Ty Sambrailo will miss his second straight game. Evan Mathis, Ryan Harris and Louis Vasquez are also nursing leg injuries. Mathis is questionable for the game. With players injured Manning understands that others must step up and contribute in order for the team to get out of Oakland with a win.

“Everybody that’s in there in the National Football League, everybody is there for a reason. They deserve to be there. You take Mike Schofield making his first start against a really good Minnesota front. I thought he did a heck of a job,” he said Wednesday. “I think you’re counting on everybody to do their job. At the same time, when you have a new starter or you have somebody that’s maybe not playing at full speed, he’s injured, everybody has got to kind of step up and raise their level of play.”

Raiders cornerback, T.J. Carrie has been ruled out for the game and David Amerson or Neiko Thorpe will be the likely replacements to cover Emmanuel Sanders. That matchup alone should yield favorable results for Denver. The biggest threat to the Broncos success and Manning’s health is the dynamic edge rusher, Khalil Mack. In his second year in the NFL, he is quickly becoming a physical force. Head coach Gary Kubiak knows how good this young defensive end is and hopes the Broncos don’t fall behind on the scoreboard.

“The biggest thing is hopefully you’re not protecting against him all day. If you get behind this team and you’re throwing the ball every down with those two edges, you’re going to be in trouble. It’s kind of like playing against our guys. He [Mack] is a heck of a player and very versatile. They play him a lot of places when they get the nickel and stuff like that. We’ve got our work cut out for us. [They have] probably as good of two-edge players as we’ve played all year long.”

Manning with have to account for Mack at all times, while also worrying about Aldon Smith who joined the team on September 11. The matchup still favors Manning who can pick on a poor cornerback has well as anyone. Hopefully the line came give him the few seconds he will need to find the open receiver.

The Broncos and Raiders rivalry dates back to 1960 and there is no love lost between the two historic franchises. The Raiders solid 2-2 start and the hiring of Del Rio has added a spark to the old flame and the Oakland faithful will be out in force. Despite a slow offensive start to the year, the Broncos have the opportunity to continue their recent domination of the Raiders with a breakout passing game. If Talib can cover the young upstart long enough for Miller to create sacks and turnovers, the ball will inevitably end up in Manning’s hands enough times for a big win Sunday afternoon.

Prediction: DEN 30, OAK 17

OTHER NOTES:

The Broncos have a 48-59-2 all-time record against the Raiders but have dominated the recent contests, winning the last seven.

The Broncos defense is continuing to creep up most vital statistics. They own the least average yards allowed per game (275.5), average net passing yards per game (185.3) and the second fewest average points allowed per game (17.3).

The Raiders offense owns the seventh-best third down conversion percentage (45.3%) and red zone touchdown percentage (66.7).

The Broncos will be without Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler and Evan Mathis are questionable. The Raiders will be without Justin Ellis (NT), Taiwan Jones (RB) and Taylor Mays (S) is questionable.

*Stats provided by the Denver Broncos Football Media Relations unless otherwise noted

Email Sam at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @SamCowhick

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