|11-28-2007, 03:03 PM||#1|
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Join Date: Jul 2006
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Scounts Inc - First Take on Denver Oakland game
Scounts Inc - First Take on Denver Oakland game
Why To Watch
While The Denver Broncos lost a heart breaker that they gave away in Chicago, the Oakland Raiders came from behind to win an AFC West contest on the road against Kansas City. The Raiders are out of postseason contention and are building for next season, while the Broncos have dug themselves a hole that has their backs against the wall. This should be a tough battle between two bitter division rivals that is likely to have big implications on the wild-card race. Look for the struggling Raiders to play the spoiler at home versus a stunned Broncos team.
When the Broncos have the ball
Rushing: Denver's ground attack has been somewhat in disarray with the loss of Travis Henry and Selvin Young due to league restrictions and injury. Backup RB Andre Hall filled in nicely in Week 12 versus the Bears, but doesn't have the size or ability that either Henry or Young brings to the team. The Broncos' running game uses more angle blocking, trapping and cut blocks with smaller, but more athletic offensive lineman gaining leverage with quickness and technique.
Oakland's defense has been less than impressive stopping the run yielding an average of 153.6 yards per contest. The Raiders let Chiefs rookie running back Kolby Smith mark up 150 yards and two touchdowns in his Week 12 debut. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has struggled with his base 4-3 scheme defending opponent's power ground attack. In the first meeting the Raiders' defense couldn't slow down Henry who marked up 128 of the Broncos' 181 yards on the ground. With Jay Cutler becoming a more effective passer as the season has developed it's tough for Ryan to put eight in the box to derail the Broncos' running game. We should look for Mike Shanahan to continue to use a balanced offensive game plan establishing a ground attack early in the contest, no matter which back is toting the football.
Passing: Denver's passing game has progressively gotten better as quarterback Cutler has developed. Shanahan's air attack is complex and attacks all levels of the field. Cutler's most explosive targets are perimeter receivers Brandon Marshall and Brandon Stokley. Both players are excellent route runners that can stretch the field or run intermediate routes with precision cuts and outstanding hands to make the tough reception in traffic. Denver also has two capable tight ends in Daniel Graham and Tony Scheffler that can attack the middle of the field on seam patterns.
Oakland's defense has been solid against the pass utilizing a variety of combination man and zone coverages. The Raiders have been average at pressuring the quarterback (only 20 in 11 games) and may have to use more pressure packages to get Cutler out of his comfort zone. Shanahan is likely to use more play-action passes on early downs to keep Oakland's defense off balance. Cutler is a good athlete that can move out of the pocket with bootlegs and throw on the run. It would appear the Broncos will have the advantage with the passing game matchups and Ryan will need to use some wrinkles to counter their potent air attack.
When the Raiders have the ball
Rushing: Oakland's ground game has been a two-headed attack with LaMont Jordan and Justin Fargas toting the football. Fargas carried the load in Week 12 in the Raiders road win versus the Chiefs. Fargas is a one-cut, slashing type back with great straight-line speed. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and head coach Lane Kiffin use a good mixture of inside power plays along with off-tackle, zone-stretch plays.
Denver's defense has been exploited most of the season yielding 146.7 yards per contest on the ground, but has improved as of late. Denver defensive coordinator Bob Slowik uses a base 4-3 scheme with a variety of zone-run blitzes to derail opponent's ground assault. Slowik rarely puts eight in the box to defend the run, but may crowd the line of scrimmage a bit more with his safeties to force the game to the inconsistent air attack of the Raiders. Though Fargas has dangerous perimeter speed, look for the Broncos to spill the Raiders' running game to the edge where the outstanding athleticism of their linebackers can be most effective.
Passing: Oakland's quarterback play has been somewhat inconsistent in 2007. The much anticipated debut of No. 1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell may take place this week versus the Broncos. It's not likely that Russell will start the game, but look for him to throw it around some if the game is not close in the second half. Veteran signal caller Daunte Culpepper was efficient in the Raiders' Week 12 victory over the Chiefs. The Raiders have not protected their quarterbacks very well and have yielded 33 sacks thus far and Culpepper isn't as fleet of foot as he once was earlier in his career.
The Broncos will bring pressure from different areas of their defense and have two excellent corners to lock up in man coverage on the outside. Oakland's perimeter targets, Ronald Curry and Jerry Porter, are effective at stretching the field with deep fade and post patterns. Sure-handed tight end Zach Miller is a solid, intermediate receiver while Culpepper has been smart at dumping the ball off to his backs on option routes. Look for Slowik to flush Culpepper out of the pocket in passing situations and force him to throw on the move. It's likely that Denver will try and make Oakland one-dimensional by taking away the run and force the less than average air attack of the Raiders to win the game.
The Broncos' special teams were exploited in Week 12 with poor coverage on both kickoffs and punts. Broncos punter Todd Sauerbrun is inconsistent with his hang time and distance while veteran kicker Jason Elam isn't very accurate over 40 yards. Glenn Martinez can be dangerous returning punts with excellent quickness and speed to hit a crease. Kickoff returns have been split between several players, but none have shown ability to make a big play. Oakland's special teams have also been inconsistent most of the season, but the Raiders have two players with powerful legs handling their kicking duties. Punter Shane Lechler is excellent with both his hang time, distance and his outstanding ability to pin opponent's inside the 20-yard line. Plus, place kicker Sebastian Janikowski has a strong leg, but is very inconsistent with his accuracy. The punt and kick return duties have been split by several players, but none have shown the ability to be game changers thus far.