November has arrived and at the midpoint of the 2016 NFL season, nine teams have a .600 or better winning percentage, including two teams with just one loss (NE, DAL), but the AFC West has three teams with a .700+ winning percentage – Denver (6-2, .750), Oakland (6-2, .750) and Kansas City (5-2, .714). The significance of this is that counting this Sunday’s matchup in Oakland, four of Denver’s remaining 8 games are against AFC West opponents, including their final two games.
The Broncos have won the last five consecutive games against the Raiders in Oakland, but Divisional games are not a pushover and the Raiders have shown improvement over the last few seasons.
Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak:
“We all know the atmosphere, how tough it is to play, but the fact that they’ve got a really good football team … Probably the biggest football team we’ll play. They’re moving the ball; the Quarterback is playing extremely well. You all know the problems we had with their pass-rushers last year so it’s a big, big challenge and it’s a big game early in the second half of the season.”
First place is at stake in the AFC West as both teams enter this week’s contest with 6-2 records. Denver has the No. 1 ranked Pass Defense (183.9 yards per game) against Oakland’s AFC-leading Pass Offense (285.1 per game).
The Broncos got Interceptions from Safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart as well as a game-changing 49-yard ‘Pick Six’ by AFC Defensive Player of the Week CB Bradley Roby last week for Denver’s third defensive TD this year.
Oakland QB David Carr, who has 17 Touchdown passes against three Interceptions through Week 8, had this to say about the Broncos, “No Fly Zone” secondary:
“They’re great cover guys. They’re very smart and they know where their help is. You can see it. You can see them talking on film. They know where their help is. If a ball gets completed, they’re looking at each other correcting it themselves as players. That’s credit to them.”
T.J. Ward said the “No Fly Zone” philosophy boils down to one thing:
“We always just want to make the play that get us victories,” said. “Run, pass, just make the plays to get victories.”
The BRONCOS clinched their 15th all-time AFC West Division title and fifth straight division title in 2015, tying Oakland (1972-76) for the most consecutive AFC West crowns in history and tie for the fifth most consecutive division titles in NFL history.
During those five seasons, Denver compiled a 26-7 record in AFC West play to represent the highest win percentage against their own division in the NFL during that span.
- QB TREVOR SIEMIAN has 6 Touchdown passes and a 104.0 rating in his last 3 road games.
- Rookie RB DEVONTAE BOOKER is vying for his 3rd game in a row with a rushing TD. He is 3rd among rookies with 298 rushing yards.
- WR EMMANUEL SANDERS has 266 receiving yards and 3 Touchdowns in the last 3 games in Oakland. Sanders is tied for fifth in the NFL with 31 receptions covering 25 or more yards since he joined the Broncos in 2014. Emmanuel, who has 221 catches as a Bronco, needs two receptions to pass Eric Decker for the 14th most catches in Broncos history.
- WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS has 60 catches for 766 yards (95.8 per game) in the past 8 meetings with the Raiders. He is one of 3 in players in the NFL with 6,000+ rec. yards (6,322) & 40+ rec. TDs (45) since 2012 and needs two catches to become the 4th Bronco player with 500 career receptions. Demaryius currently ranks 4th in club history for receptions (498) and 3rd in receiving yards (7,156) and TD catches (50).
The DENVER DEFENSE, who is tied for the NFL lead with 16 takeaways this season, have scored a league-high 80 points off turnovers. They have won a franchise-record 27 consecutive games when winning the turnover battle to represent the longest active streak in the NFL.
They have scored nine defensive touchdowns (6 INT ret./3 FUM ret.) since the start of the 2015 season (incl. playoffs) to tie for the most in the NFL during that span. At present, the Broncos lead the league in Sacks (26) and Quarterbacks hits (75) through Week 8.
- LB VON MILLER aims for 3rd in row vs. Oak. with sack & FF. Has 13.5 sacks, 3 FFs & INT in past 10 (incl. playoffs). Since 2011 (incl. playoffs), ranks 2nd in NFL with 75 sacks.
- MILLER ranks second in the NFL with 8.5 Sacks and looks for his 4th game in a row against Oakland with a Sack. With 1.5 Sacks, Miller will join Ring of Famer Simon Fletcher as the only two Broncos to with five 10-Sack seasons.
- DE DEREK WOLFE leads the Broncos and is tied for second in the NFL with 15 Quarterback hits this season.
- LB SHAQUIL BARRETT is looking for his 3rd game in a row with a Sack against Oakland.
- CB CHRIS HARRIS JR. had 74-yard Interception returned for a Touchdown (Pick-Six) in the last game at the Black Hole.
- CB BRADLEY ROBY had a 49-yard Pick-Six off Philip Rivers last week.
- CB LORENZO DOSS was pressed into action last week and responded with a huge day. Doss was thrown at six times, allowing two catches for 29 yards with two Pass Breakups. He did allow a touchdown, but it was enough to be one of Pro Football Focus’ best Cornerbacks in Week 8 with an 88.9 grade.
- S T.J. WARD had 10 Tackles, a Sack and an Interception for the trifecta against the Bolts. T.J. ranks 4th among NFL defensive backs since 2013 with 20 Tackles For a Loss (6.5 Sacks, 13.5 run stuffs).
- K BRANDON McMANUS has connected on 55-of-66 Field Goal attempts with his 83.3% representing the best career mark in team history (min. 20 att.).
The RAIDERS are seeking their first season sweep vs. Denver since 2010.
- QB DEREK CARR became the 3rd player in NFL history with 500+ pass yards (513) and 4 Touchdowns without an Interception in the Raiders’ 30-24 overtime win at Tampa Bay last week. Carr’s 41-yard TD strike to WR SETH ROBERTS with 1:45 remaining in OT capped the road win for Oakland. Derek is tied for 3rd in NFL with 17 Touchdown passes.
- Carr recorded his 7nth career game with at least 3 TD passes and no INTs, to tie Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the most such games by a player in his first three seasons.
- RB LATAVIUS MURRAY has 5 rushing TDs in the past 6 games.
- WR AMARI COOPER ranks third in the NFL in both receptions (52) and receiving yards (787). Cooper had a career-high 12 catches for 173 yards with a TD last week, and has seven career games with at least 120 receiving yards.
- WR MICHAEL CRABTREE is tied for the league lead in Touchdown catches with six.
- TE MYCHAL RIVERA had a Touchdown reception in the last meeting.
- T DONALD PENN picked up his 4th career Touchdown catch last week.
- DE KHALIL MACK tied an Oakland team record with 5 Sacks in the last meeting and has 14 Sacks in the last 15 games. Khalil is going for his 4th consecutive game with a Sack. Since 2015, Mack leads the NFL with S0 sacks.
- Since 2007, S REGGIE NELSON is the only active player with 30 or more Interceptions (32) and 5 or more Sacks (6.5).
The oddsmakers have gotten wise and now consider this game to be a Toss up, with the Over/Under still at 44.
– Kaptain Kirk