By Abraham Gutierrez
Following a disappointing loss at the hands of the Chiefs in Week 13, the Raiders find themselves needing to run the table in order to have a remote chance to sneak into the postseason. First up is another intradivisional battle, as Jack Del Rio and the Silver and Black travel a mile into the sky looking for some good fortunes. Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado will be the site for an intriguing showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders.
Denver Broncos 2015 NFL Season
With a record of 10-2 on the year, the Broncos come into Week 14 sitting atop the AFC West and are well positioned to win their fifth straight divisional crown. 13 weeks into his first season at the helm of this ballclub, Gary Kubiak is 4-1 at home, 6-1 on the road, is 3-1 against intradivisional foes, 4-0 against non-conference rivals, and come in having won three straight ballgames.
Broncos On Offense
Even with the great Peyton Manning under center, offensive coordinator Rick Dennison had to have expected a tough transition in his first season at the helm. However, this former Broncos player couldn’t have prepared for the types of struggles this unit has faced in 2015, even with his 21 years of NFL experience.
The Broncos offense comes into Week 14 ranked 17th in rushing yards per game (104.8), 18th in passing yards (236.9), 19th in points scored (22.4) and 20th in total yards per contest (341.7).
Broncos On Defense
The Broncos defensive coordinator is Wade Phillips, and his first season at the helm of this defense couldn’t have gone much better. In fact, some would say that considering the way this team has struggled on the offensive side of the football, that 10-2 record is a testament to the play of this defensive unit.
Prior to Week 14, the Broncos’ defense is among the most feared in the entire National Football League. Phillips’ bunch is currently ranked number one in the NFL in total yards (284.7) and passing yards per game (195.6). The former Cowboys head coach also runs the league’s second-best ranked defense in terms of points (17.5), and rank fifth in the NFL surrendering 89.1 rushing yards per game.
Broncos Players To Watch
On the offensive side of the football, the player to watch is none other than wide receiver Demaryius Thomas. In his sixth season out of Georgia Tech, Thomas leads the team in catches and receiving yards with 78 grabs and 972 yards respectively. Thomas also has three touchdowns on the season and averages 12.5 yards per catch.
On the defensive end of the rock, there are three players that must be accounted for at all times. First is Von Miller, who comes into Week 13 leading the way with 9 sacks on the year to go along with 28 tackles and three forced fumbles. Outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware looks to add to his 6.5 sacks and 20 tackles. And finally, there’s fellow OLB Shaquil Barrett, who’s third on the team in the sacks department with 4.5, along with 40 tackles and three forced fumbles.
Raiders vs. Broncos Outlook
Despite not having Manning available again this week, the Broncos are still the team to beat at home when the Raiders come storming in. The last time these teams met dates back to Oct. 11 (Week 5) when these bitter foes collided in the East Bay. With Manning struggling, the Broncos defense picked up the slack, coming away with a 16-10 victory over the Silver and Black at the O.co Coliseum.
Abe Gutierrez’s (Twitter: @GutierrezAbe) passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers), CBS-BayArea (Raiders), CBS-NewYork (NY Jets), CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, aExaminer.com and other online publications.