Week 14: Denver Broncos At Oakland Raiders
- QuarterbackPeyton Manning’s success in Denver is one of the NFL’s best feel-good stories in years. However, it’s well past that at this point. The Broncos are dominating the AFC West and they have a legitimate chance to win one of the top two seeds in the AFC. Manning is reading defenses well, getting rid of the ball quickly and putting enough on it to give his team a consistent passing game.Carson Palmer has hung in there under very difficult circumstances this year. He has demonstrated the arm strength and resiliency to help his team play much better football at home than it has on the road. A key in this game is getting off to a quick start so the Broncos can’t unleash their monstrous pass rush.
- OffenseThe improvement in the Broncos’ offense has been dramatic this season. Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker are a pair of fine receivers who have improved quite a bit this season. It’s no surprise with Manning calling signals. Thomas is an excellent deep threat while Decker can make the tough catch. Running back Knowshon Moreno is a tough runner.The running game is always much better when Darren McFadden is running at full speed and gaining yards after contact. Denarius Moore is a solid big-play receiver who can run though the secondary. Darrius Heyward-Bey is a gutsy player who has taken more than his share of hard hits this season.
- DefenseThe Broncos combine eye-catching speed and excellent technique. They have become one of the hardest hitting and most consistent defenses in the AFC. They rank fourth in total defense this season and fifth against the pass. Von Miller has been a dominant force rushing the passer and Champ Bailey still plays with excellent technique.The Raiders have been one of the most generous defensive units in the NFL this season. However, they are much better when Richard Seymour is holding down his defensive tackle spot. Outside linebacker Philip Wheeler is one of the better tacklers on the team and cornerback Michael Huff is one of the best one-on-one pass defenders in the AFC.
- Special TeamsThe Broncos have had success with their special teams this year. Explosive Trindon Holliday has returned both a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown this year. Placekicker Matt Prater has the leg strength to hit long field goals while Britton Colquitt gets great height on his punts.The Broncos may get an edge from their special teams thanks to Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler. Janikowski remains one of the best long-distance kickers in the league and Lechler knows how to kick the ball away from dangerous return men.
The Broncos have become one of the best teams in the AFC. They are not going to get tested by the Raiders, but the key is performing at a consistent level and not playing down to the talent level of their opponent. Manning is not likely to let that happen.