AFC Game Of The Week
Denver Broncos (6-2) at Oakland Raiders (6-2)
Broncos: Despite them being 6-2, the Denver Broncos still aren’t being discussed as much and let’s remember that this is the team that won Super Bowl 50 last season. At the beginning of the year, I remember saying that DeMaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders needed to be patient with Trevor Siemian because chemistry truly does take the time to build and they had to realize that they weren’t catching passes from Peyton Manning. Let’s look at them now. Sanders has caught 44 passes and DT has caught 42. The biggest thing that can affect the Broncos is the injury to C.J. Anderson and I really think his value is underappreciated. He’s a back that can fight for the hard earned extra yards, he blocks when he has too and he’s able to catch the ball out the backfield. As far as the defense is concerned, this is still one of the best units in the league right now. Von Miller is still playing at a high level and this secondary has been incredible to watch. They’ve earned the nickname “no fly zone” for a reason. First place is on the line on Sunday night in the AFC West when they travel to the black hole.
Raiders: This summer when I previewed the AFC West, I was bold and stated the Oakland Raiders would the division and here was why: The Chiefs would have a lot of questions on their defense especially without Justin Houston who’s been their best pass rusher and overall, their best defensive player. The Chargers are still in a rebuild mode and the Broncos would have a lot of uncertainty after losing some key pieces from a title winning team. I really felt this could be the Raiders year and so far, they’ve looked really good. This is the best I’ve seen them look in a really long time. Usually, after eight games, they’re basically out of the race but that isn’t the case with this team this year. Derek Carr is an MVP candidate behind Tom Brady. He leads the AFC in touchdown passes with 17. His top two receivers have become a really fun tandem to watch. Amari Cooper has always been Carr’s go-to guy and Michael Crabtree is more than capable of making a big time catch when it matters. The only thing that’s holding the Raiders back from really taking that next step is their defense which is a surprise because Jack Del Rio is a defensive-minded coach. They are ranked 31st in the league and their secondary is struggling to defend the deep ball down the field. I think the secondary still misses Charles Woodson. This is the biggest game for the Raiders in quite some time.
Broncos Player To Watch: Bradley Roby– He will more than likely start for Aqib Talib who is battling a back injury. The Broncos have shown us that they have great depth in the secondary and Bradley has stepped in and filled in nicely for Talib. He’ll have his hands full with Crabtree while Harris Jr will probably be lined up on Amari Cooper.
Raiders Player To Watch: The Trio Of Running Backs– The Broncos still have one of the best defenses in the league, but when it comes to stopping the run, they struggle. The three-headed monster of Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington will all need to bring it to exploit that weakness even more.
Prediction: I’ve been looking forward to this preview all week long. This rivalry has a chance to get back to being relevant once again as it was in the 90s and 2000s. I like the Broncos to win this game. Broncos 24 Raiders 16