Three Keys for the Denver Broncos Versus the Oakland Raiders


Nov 9, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos running back C.J. Anderson (22) runs with the ball after making a catch against the Oakland Raiders in the second quarter at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to believe that the Denver Broncos play their final game of the regular season on Sunday when they host the Oakland Raiders. With a win on Sunday, the Broncos will finish 12-4 and clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs.

I had to read that last sentence a couple of times because if you listened to any sports talk this week or read anything, you would think the Broncos were 4-12 and in the running for the first overall pick in next spring’s draft. I understand the Broncos have some issues but let’s be careful.

This team has won four straight division titles, won the AFC Championship last season and have won 80% of their regular season games since 2012. Yes the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl and the Broncos are the first ones to say that, but they have won a lot of football games and provided their fans with a whole lot of enjoyment.

So next time you feel like ripping the offense because they did not pick up a 3rd and 6, remember you could be watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers every week.

Ok, off my soap box and on to the three keys that will get the Broncos win number 12.

Start fast: The Raiders have nothing to play for other than pride and maybe a chance to put a dent in the Broncos playoff hopes, but those two things will fade quickly if the Broncos jump out to a 14-0 lead.

If the Broncos can get a lead and take control of the game, the Raiders will start thinking about their offseason plans and who the coach might be next season. However if the Broncos let them hang around, then the Raiders might decide they have a chance and decide to play.

The Broncos can end this game early if they come out and let the Raiders know that it’s going to be a very long day.

Find balance on offense: The Broncos have lost two games in the second half of the season and in both of those games, they got away from the running game. It was somewhat understandable last week as the Broncos were unable to run the ball, but that lack of balance eventually caught up with them.

I would like to see the Broncos take a page out of the John Elway/Terrell Davis playbook, and throw the ball early. Broncos’ fans will remember that those teams often got a lead via the pass, and then ran the ball late.

Opposing teams have keyed onto the idea that the Broncos are trying to establish the run early, and they are loading the box. The Broncos need to throw the ball early, get a lead and then pound the Raiders with the run.

Find the pass rush: The Broncos do not have a sack in the last two games and that’s not going to cut it in the playoffs. I understand that teams are combating the Broncos pass rush with screens and quick throws, but they have to start getting to the quarterback on a more regular basis.

Defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio needs to get back to the aggressive approach he had in the game versus the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos blitzed a lot in that game and it was effective almost every time.

Now it’s going to be tricky this week because the Broncos are still very thin at linebacker and safety TJ Ward may not play. Because of that, Del Rio may not want to expose some young players in one-on-one situations. Having said that, the defense must get some pressure on Derek Carr this week and force the rookie into some mistakes.

The Broncos are going to win this game and they are going to win it comfortably. After Sunday, everyone is 0-0 and the team that gets hot will be the one that wins it all. The Broncos have more than enough talent to be that team.

Prediction: Broncos-35 Raiders-16