The Broncos have begun the season unblemished and pace the league in most offensive categories. The Broncos have put up more than 40 points and won by double digits in each of the first two games. The Broncos are now set for their first divisional rivalry game, a rivalry that was not lost on Peyton Manning. “I’ve always been aware of what a big one Denver and Oakland was” Manning said following Thursday’s practice when asked about the Oakland Denver rivalry. “It really feels like a new team from a defensive standpoint.” The Oakland defense features 9 new defensive starters and have managed to lead the league in sacks through 2 games, a stat that doesn’t go unnoticed by Manning given the lost of Pro-Bowl left tackle Ryan Clady. “They can get sacks different ways. I think communication will be pivotal against this defense.” Clady, who left last Sunday’s Giants game with 3:43 left in the 4th quarter after Giants’ defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins fell on his left foot, Clady was subsequently placed on IR and done for the season with the dreaded lisfranc injury. Clady was replaced by Chris Clark who will finish the season as Peyton Manning’s blind side protector. Clark only ran 4 plays in Giants game, 2 Manning kneels, a run play where he badly missed a cut block on Cullin Jenkins and a pass play where he was pushed into the pocket by Mathias Kiwanuka. The Raiders defense figures to attack Clark and are playing superior to last years unit, which managed to sack Manning 3 times while limiting Peyton to 1 td and 1 interception.
“That defense is playing as a group right now,” Offensive Coordinator Adam Gases added when discussing the pending Monday night matchup. ” Our challege is gong to be to match their intensity.” While Manning and Gase were concerned about the pressure up front, head coach John Fox sees the secondary, headed by future hall of famer Charles Woodson, as an area of concern. “They give you a lot of different looks. They have improved on the backend” Fox said while speaking with the media following Friday’s practice.
While the offense was focusing on the new look Raiders’ defense, the Broncos defense had their own concerns. The Raiders will bring in one of the top ranked rushing attacks, but it isn’t the running back that has raised concern for Broncos defenders… its young qb Terrelle Pryor and his frightening athleticism. “The look that the Raiders present is a different look than what we have seen in the last couple of weeks” defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said of Pryor led Oakland offense. You’ve got to keep your eyes on the quarteback. If the first options aren’t there, he’s going to take off,” Broncos’ defensive lineman Terrence Knighton added. Broncos dt Kevin Vickerson believes the key to containing Pryor be “to play our technique up front, stay in our lane… lane discipline.”
The Broncos run defense is sure to be tested more than the two previous games. The Ravens and Giants combined for a total of 44 rush plays for 81 yards while the nearly eclipsed the total rush plays in each of their two previous games the tune of 198.5 yards a game. The Broncos can’t discount the impact Darren Mcfadden may have on Monday’s game, the Raiders are 11-2 when Mcfadden has 100 plus yards in a game. David Wilson and Ray Rice each have yet to have a run of more than 20 yards, Mcfadden has a league leading 4 and Pryor has 3. The Monday night rivalry appears to look more and more like a contest as game day approaches.