The Raiders kicked the Broncos tail last season, but every season is different. The Broncos have a new head coach and return Elvis Dumervil. The Broncos also added a dynamic rookie in Von Miller in April’s draft.
The Broncos are a different team with different challenges. The Raiders are very similar team, with very familiar challenges and maybe a few new ones.
Raiders Offense vs. Broncos Defense
The Raiders were able to run on the Broncos last season and will attempt to do the same again. The Broncos go from a 3-4 to a 4-3, but the Broncos didn’t drastically alter the front seven. Dumervill and Miller are the primary difference and they are mostly pass rushers.
Much has been made of the Raiders new and improved passing game and the Broncos secondary will make plays when provided ample pass rush. The Raiders will need to play run effectively to use play action. An early lead will help the offense and keep the Broncos pass rush from pinning their ears back to get Jason Campbell.
Jared Veldheer vs. Elvis Dumervil
Dumervil is an elite pass rusher and his nine inches shorter than Veldheer. Veldheer will have to play lower than his height. While Veldheer has improved, he will need help and the Raiders will likely give it to him. Veldheer might be taller, but he also has nearly 80 pounds on Dumervil. Despite the leverage problems Veldheer should be able to push Dumervil around. Sometimes it’s just about poundage.
Khalif Barnes vs. Von Miller
You can basically say the same things about Barnes against Miller as Veldheer against Dumervil. The one exception is that Miller plays linebacker. That means Robert Ayers will figure into the mix against Barnes and the Raiders tight ends may be blocking Miller at times. Barnes needs to play well to keep his starting position as Stephon Heyer will push him. The Broncos this Von Miller is second coming of Demarcus Ware. Barnes will need to put the rookie in his place.
Jacoby Ford vs. Champ Bailey
Champ Bailey continues to play at a high level and will be matchup up against the Raiders biggest threat through the air in Jacoby Ford. Bailey will also slide inside to the slot in nickel situations to cover Ford. Bailey is a smary player, but he’ll have trouble with Ford’s speed. Ford must seperate from Bailey or Jason Campbell will be forced to go elsewhere.
Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. Andre Goodman
The Broncos are easier to attack on the left side of the defense against Andre Goodman and Darcel McBath. It’s up to DHB to expose this weakness. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders try to feed the ball to Heyward-Bay a few times on the first offensive drive with slant and out routes. If there is room the Raiders may stay away from Bailey and Brian Dawkins.
Jason Campbell vs. Jason Campbell
The Raiders quarterback played too inconsistently last season. He had a few horrible games and others where the Raiders won despite Campbell’s poor play. He’s still tipping pass plays by rolling away from center as the ball is about to be snapped and his deep accuracy has been a major question. Campbell needs a little extra time from his offensive line, but it’s up to Campbell to figure out what the defense is doing to him and get the job done.
Al Saunders and Hue Jackson can help Campbell by calling rollout and bootleg passes. By cutting the field in half and making the safeties account for him he just might be able to deliver deep strikes down the field. The Raiders will do a lot of motion and try to move the pocket around to create matchups they desire.
Raiders Defense vs. Broncos Offense
John Fox is known for having rushing teams. How will he mesh the running mentality with offensive personal built for the spread? Fox brought in Willis McGahee to complement Knowshon Moreno and that alone will help the rushing offense. Kyle Orton is a capable quarterback and breakout receiver Brandon Lloyd has been described by cornerbacks as the most difficult man to cover in the NFL.
Kyle Orton vs. Rolando McClain
The Raiders sacked Orton four times in Denver last season limited him to completing only 41% of his passes and forcing a fumble. Orton is like many NFL quarterbacks is a capable of shredding a secondary if given time. The Raiders pass rush must get to Orton. McClain is the quarterback of the Raiders defense and will be playing a mental chess match with Orton throughout the game. McClain will need to determine if Orton has successfully diagnosed the Raiders coverage and blitzes and adjust accordindly.
Chris Johnson vs. Brandon Lloyd
It’s Stanford Routt that is supposed to be under the microscope this season with Nnamdi Asomugha gone, but Chris Johnson draws the matchup against Flanker Brandon Lloyd. While Lloyd may move around the Raiders corners play right and left. So Chris Johnson draws this matchup. Johnson is just coming back from an injury. While Johnson has shown that he can occasionally get burned, he also has the best ball skills in the Raiders secondary and could find the balls in his hands if the Raiders put the heat on Orton. Expect both to happen and hope Johnson can avoid giving up any big plays to the Broncos biggest offensive threat.
Ryan Clady vs. Matt Shaughnessy
Boy is this going to be a fun matchup to watch. Clady is one of the best left tackles in the NFL and Shaughnessy is ready to make a name for himself. Watch these two players all night for one heck of a battle. Shaughnessy could be ready for a 10+ sack season. Can he beat one of hte best left tackles to get his first one or two of the season? It’s worth watching this game just to find out. The Broncos will tilt the pass coverage to the other side and Clady will be alone to handle Shaughnasty.
Lamarr Houston/Kamerion Wimbley vs Orlando Franklin.
A rookie right tackle against Lamarr Houston and Kamerion Wimbley? Talk about an opportunity for the Raiders pass rush. Franklin was a second-round pick, so he’s capable. The Raiders will want to throw the kitchen sink at Franklin. It’s a tough matchup for even the best rookies. The Raiders will immediately test Franklin. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders also bring a blitz or two from the right edge.
The Raiders biggest advantage is the defensive line against the Broncos front five. It should give the Raiders a touchdown advantage. Raiders 27, Broncos 20