Here are three things to watch for in Sunday's Raiders-Broncos game:
1. BRONCOS DEPTH / BACK-UPS
The Broncos injury report this week was the longest coach Gary Kubiak has ever seen. 22 players were on the list with some sort of injury or illness. The good news Friday is that only three players have been ruled out for sure. Peyton Manning, Danny Trevathan, and T.J. Ward. The rest are listed as questionable (including Ronnie Hillman, CJ Anderson, Vernon Davis, David Bruton, and Omar Bolden) or probable (including DeMarcus Ware, Darian Stewart, Shane Ray, Sylvester Williams, Emmanuel Sanders, and Louis Vasquez.) But there will be back-ups in the game. Like Todd Davis starting at linebacker, Josh Bush seeing time at safety, and Juwan Thompson playing running back. How these guys perform will go a long way towards the Broncos winning their 4th game in a row.
Coach Gary Kubiak said this about the injury list this week:
" That is the longest list that I’ve ever had, but I think some guys are pushing to get there, so I think tomorrow is a big indicator for us as a team. We’ve had good work. I think our work was good today. Obviously, we’re not in our pads and stuff like we are on Thursday, but our reps were good. I think we’re having a good week. We just have to see what takes place over the next 48 hours.”
2. PRESSURE ON RAIDERS Q-B DEREK CARR
Well, this is a key to the game every week! You get good pressure on the quarterback, get some sacks, some hits, some forced throws, and you got a chance to win. Young Derek Carr is having a good season, with 26 touchdown passes and 9 interceptions. He's the 7th rated passer in the league at 97.7. So he can hurt you. But the Broncos have the #1 defense against the pass and lead the league in sacks with 41. Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, Shane Ray, Shaq Barrett, and the Broncos beefy lineman are going to come after Carr. They get to him, game over.
Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips talked about what stat is most important:
“Wins. Wins are No. 1. You can have all the stats in the world. We were seventh in the league at Houston when I was there, and we went 2-and-14. It’s about winning, if you play well enough to win. You don’t want your goals to be only yardage or only whatever because the most important thing is to win. If you’ve given up 500 yards and they are on the 2-yard-line at the end of the game and you can win the game and you win the game, you’ve played well enough. Stats are important, I think, because they tell you—they’re an indicator on how consistent you are and how well you can play overall, but winning the game is the most important thing.”
3. BROCK OSWEILER'S 4TH START
Brock Osweiler is certainly not setting the NFL world on fire with his stats and numbers. He's not losing any games either. Making just his 4th start Sunday against Oakland, Brock is learning something new every day. As long as he understands his role, the Broncos can be successful. Don't do anything crazy and turn the ball over, that's his role. Brock may take more chances and hit bigger plays as he gets more and more experience. But for this team at this moment, he is doing exactly what the Broncos need him to do. Manage the game. Score enough points to win. And rely on the defense.
Here's what Brock Osweiler said:
"If you don’t put our defense in bad situations, if you don’t put them in short fields, they’re going to make that opposing offense’s job very tough to go 70, 80, 90 yards to score points. My job is to always see the big picture—run the offense, understand how the special teams is doing, understand how the defense is doing, manage the football game and put our team in the best position to win football games. I think, as a quarterback, you need to understand what puts your team in the best situation to win football games. Right now, for me, that’s doing certain things on the field on Sundays. That’s maybe not asking me to throw the ball 40 or 50 times, but Coach Kubiak, [Defensive Coordinator] Coach [Wade] Phillips and the rest of those coaches—Coach Dennison—they’re going to put together the best game plan to give our team an opportunity to win and it’s my job to understand the big picture and manage the team throughout the game on Sunday so that we have that opportunity to win the game in the fourth quarter.”