After a rather muted Raiders week, the Broncos head into the Black Hole tonight to face their most hated division foe. Rivalry? You betcha. We don’t care what the media says, the hatred burns just as hot today as it ever did.
Here’s how I see this one going down.
The Oakland Raiders have lost their last five games. That’s not good. The Denver Broncos have won their last seven. That’s great. But, when these two teams face one another it’s safe to ignore their respective records. It sounds cliché, but it’s true.
Denver has struggled with slow starts lately, and that trend will continue tonight, much to the frustration of their fans. Oakland will open the scoring with a touchdown pass from Carson Palmer to his hot tight end, Brandon Myers. The Broncos struggle with TEs. Palmer knows this, and he will be under pressure to get rid of the ball quickly. Look for Myers to have a heck of a night, catching about eight passes and racking up eighty or so receiving yards and a touchdown.
Another Raider to be wary of is Darren McFadden who returns tonight after having been out of their lineup for several weeks. He will find success for the same reasons Myers will. Palmer will be rushed, and Denver seems to always struggle with pass catching backs. McFadden will have over 150 all-purpose yards and will score twice.
The first half will be tight. The Broncos and the Raiders will exchange blows. Ultimately, Denver will head to the locker room up 20-17.
It will be in the second half that the Broncos open things up. They’ll score two touchdowns, both in the passing game. Manning will take over and Denver will all but abandon a running game that will have had little success. It’s a formula we have seen before. With 75% of the minutes expired, the Broncos will lead 34-20 and appear to have the game in the bag.
Unfortunately, Carson Palmer seems to shine in garbage time and the Broncos have a bad habit of stepping off the gas. It’s for those reasons that Oakland will ultimately cover the 10 point spread that Vegas put on the game. The Raiders will manage 10 points to Denver’s 3 in the 4th quarter.
Denver will win a game that was far closer than people thought it should have been, 37-30. In the coming ten days people will point to Broncos / Raiders as having been a “trap game” between the Bucs tilt and the upcoming match-up with the Ravens. It’ll give sports radio talkers something to do.