With so many interesting match ups this round, it was hard to pick just one preview for this week.
You’ve got the Patriots (3-0) who lead the league in offense and passing taking on the Cowboys (2-2) in Dallas which will be awesome to watch. Seattle (1-2) are taking on the undefeated Bengals (4-0) which is something I never thought I’d write.
This week however, we’ll be looking at a game that will really impact the AFC West division with the Denver Broncos (4-0) taking on their division rivals the Oakland Raiders (2-2).
It will be an interesting match to say the least-can Peyton Manning shake the cobwebs from last week and get Denver to a 5-0 start?
The Broncos had a close miss with the Vikings in Week 4. Their defence proved why it’s one of, if not the best in the league right now.
Denver has the best defence in the league. For the most part, Denver’s D-Line kept Adrian Peterson chances to a minimum. They gave him zero space and that is no easy feat. Ted Bridgewater won’t be sending Denver a Christmas card anytime soon. Denver handed out seven sacks including T.J Ward’s strip for a turnover.
Hillmans Got Pace.
Watching back, the Denver/Vikings game (I can’t usually watch the games from work), this was my first real time taking notice of Ronnie Hillman. He had a few starts over the last season but he seriously impressed me with his game reading and running abilities. He looked like a padded up version of Tim Nanai Williams from the Chiefs Super Rugby team at times with his ability to run the sideline.
CJ Anderson may have lost his starting position after that game.
Playing Under Pressure.
All four of the Broncos wins have come in the final few minutes. This season has seen them come close so many times to a loss and that’s when the team steps up the most. That vital ability mixed with their amazing defence is more than capable of taking them all the way this season.
Manning Showing His Age.
Peyton is old. He looks like it and he’s playing like it. Its week 5 and he’s currently on 6 TD’s and 5 Interceptions. He looks sluggish. At times he has had flashes of his old brilliance but his throwing power seems painfully limited. He’ll need to find that inner youth if he intends to take this season to 5-0.
Limited Ground Game.
Denver has some pretty poor rushing stats this season which is disappointing as they are capable of so much more. CJ Anderson has struggled to find any space so far this season which may lead to Ronnie Hillman taking over starting duties to inject something into the attack of Denver.
California Knows How to Party
This is usually the time of the season where Oakland rallies and kicks their season into gear. And doing it at O.Co Stadium in Cali sounds just like the kind of place that they’ll do it. Denver can’t underestimate the Raiders attack – it may be what breaks their defence.
The Raiders were unlucky last week, just being narrowly nudged out by Chicago. They’ll be looking to make a statement against their AFC West rivals this week. Can the young Derek Carr step up against one of the greats in Peyton Manning?
Oakland’s offence is in the middle of a large scale reshuffle, all thanks to Bill Musgrave. In a few short weeks, he’s gone from a bunch of players that took three quarters to score against Cincinnati to having some great big plays up his sleeve. The Raiders scored 64 points and accumulated 917 yards of total offense in winning their past two games. That’s a major turn around and they look like they’ll only get better from here.
Crabtree Getting His Roots.
Michael Crabtree is finally gaining some footing and coming into form. He’s had an average start to the season. Not terrible but not one to write home about.
At only 28 years old, he’s still got some years in him but he is definitely one of the older guys in the Offense for Oakland. If he’s finding some form, he may be the one to crack Denver’s Defensive line.
Young Team on the Rise.
Oakland has a lot of young players still trying to build their footing. Some of them have found it, some are still slipping along the way but they feel like a team that will become a real threat with a bit of time. Derrek Carr is only 24. Amari Cooper is in his rookie year at age 21 and making an impact. Latavius Murray is 24 years old.
This is a great young team to watch.
If Denver are the Kings of Defence, Oakland are the dead opposite.
Only the Cleveland Browns have a worse defence right now and even then it’s a close call. Oakland better hope that this isn’t the week that Manning brushes off the dust.
Oakland have already lost one game at home this season and with it, they have lost any aura of an ‘impenetrable fortress’ that many teams like to associate with their home stadium. Never under estimate the mental effect a home town advantage can have for a team
‘History Never Repeats’. Split Endz obviously never saw these two teams play. Since the 1960s, the Raiders and the Broncos have faced 111 times. The Raiders are sitting on 60 wins compared to Denver’s 49 wins (and 2 draws). But Oakland haven’t beaten the Broncos since 2011.
They’ll need a lot of help with this one.
I’m currently 2-2 with my weekly picks. I’m hoping to get it right this week. Denver’s defence is far too strong. Peyton will find rhythm in 4th quarter to win it for the Broncos 24-14. At the same time, if the Raiders upset the Broncos here, I wouldn’t be overly surprised.
Players to Watch:
Ronnie Hillman will bust the game open for the Broncos, especially against the minor defences of Oakland. I’m hoping he gets the nod to start over CJ Anderson.
Derrek Carr is one of my favourite young players of the last year. I think this season is when he’ll start getting some treading in his career. If Oakland have any chance of winning, it will be on the shoulders of Carr.