By Ryan Leong
Denver Broncos season record 1-2. The Peyton Manning era in Denver is off to a rocky start.
After a promising 31-19 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Broncos in the last two games tried to overcome 20 point deficits, rallying to within six points but losing.
Manning was supposed to resurrect the Broncos to the glory days of old, signed as a free agent by Executive Vice President of Football Operations, John Elway.
Elway traded away the popular yet inconsistent Tim Tebow who was not only a fan favorite, but a media sensation as well.
Aside from the victory against the Steelers, Manning has shown that at 36-years old, father time is catching up to him. In week two against the Atlanta Falcons, he threw three interceptions in the first quarter.
Last week vs. Houston, he didn’t throw any picks but had a career high 26 incompletions. He was also sacked three times and has eight total on the season putting him on pace for 43.
On defense, middle linebacker Joe Mays gave Texans quarterback Matt Schaub a hit so hard, his helmet flew off along with a chunk of his left ear. The league fined him $50,000 and suspended him one game so they’ll need others to step up in his absence. Mays was already fined $7,875 after a late hit on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
Linebacker Nate Irving will also be missing from action as he suffered a concussion against the Texans and has yet to return to practice.
For the interim, the Broncos will need better play from Keith Brooking and Von Miller.
Most of the Raiders offense centers around running back Darren McFadden who has also become a receiving threat, catching passes from the back field.
Offensively, the Broncos are thin at wide receiver and look to get a lift from Andre Caldwell who has been inactive the first three games. Caldwell had 51 receptions in 2009 with the Cincinnati Bengals before he was bothered by a groin injury cutting that number in half to 25 receptions in 2010 and 37 last season.
He had offseason surgery and hopes to return to the level of production three years ago, when he caught those passes from now current Raiders quarterback, Carson Palmer.
It’s a big game for Raiders head coach Dennis Allen who served as the defensive coordinator under John Fox in 2011. He downplays the importance of his return to the mile high city.
“It will be just like every other week,” Allen said. “It’s going to be a division opponent. It’s a big game, but we can’t get into individualism. This is a team game. We got a challenge to face the Denver Broncos, and we’re going to come up with a good plan, our players will execute and we’re going to go try to win a game. It’s not about me, it’s not about Dennis Allen vs. the Denver Broncos, it’s about the Oakland Raiders vs. the Denver Broncos. We’re going to need a lot more than just me out there to go win a game. So our focus is going to be on our team trying to exploit whatever weaknesses Denver has and eliminate the times that they’re able to exploit whatever vulnerabilities we have.”
As for the rivalry, this is the 104th meeting between these storied AFC franchises. From their days back in the defunct AFL, this is one of the better Raider rivalries. All-time the Raiders lead the regular-season series, 59-42-2 and the two teams have met twice in the playoffs, each team winning once. The Raiders are 6-4 over their last 10 games against Denver winning four of the last five.
The Raiders dropped the most recent meeting at the Oakland Coliseum on November 6, 2011, 38-24.
It’s also a matchup of two overall no. 1 picks playing for their second team. Palmer was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cincinnati Bengals in 2003 while Manning was selected first by the Indianapolis Colts in 1998.
Both teams are 1-2 and each has beaten Pittsburgh at home this season.
Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.