CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Rivalries require respect, and shared animosity and victories. Each team needs to win a chunk, with its fans believing a triumph is possible regardless of the circumstances and location.
The Broncos and Raiders rivalry bubbled to the surface in 1977. The Broncos eliminated the Raiders in the AFC Championship Game, advancing to their first Super Bowl. The dislike became real between Red Miller and John Madden and Tom Jackson and Lyle Alzado, well, you get the picture.
Mike Shanahan brought a bubbling cauldron of anger toward Oakland. He loathed owner Al Davis over stiffing him $250,000 after firing him as the Raiders coach. So bitter was Shanahan, as coordinator of San Francisco, he ordered Steve Young to fire a ball at Davis in warmups. It hit him in the leg as Davis flipped off Shanahan.
Shanahan dominated the Raiders as the Broncos coach. The rivalry, dormant for more than a decade because of Oakland's struggles, is now reborn. Both teams are angry and a little desperate, neither particularly interested in falling to 2-2 in an AFC West division that is turning into a WWE pay-per-view event.
My Denver7 takeaways as the Broncos prepare for Sunday:
1) Trevor must play better
The Broncos are built to steal close games. It involves a key component: winning or drawing even on the turnover margin. Trevor Siemian threw two interceptions against Buffalo, and was outplayed by Tyrod Taylor. The pick intended for Bennie Fowler, as I mentioned in previous stories, was a failed attempt to throw the ball out of bounds. Siemian slumped against the blitz. He has only started 17 games, admittedly learning as he goes. As Siemian emphasized Wednesday, he must take care of the ball while still taking chances. "It's on me to do a better job," Siemian said.
2) Don't forget to run
The Broncos hit a wall on the ground in the first quarter, and became pass happy. They had favorable matchups, and if Emmanuel Sanders' 44-yard catch is, you know, ruled a catch, this is a non-issue. He dropped the ball. The Broncos dropped the game. The Broncos own the NFL's third-best running game. They can't forget that against an Oakland team that is allowing 112 yards on the ground.
3) Eyes up
The Broncos' coverage issues involved not keeping eyes peeled on the backfield to make adjustments. Taylor stressed the defense with his mobility. Derek Carr is a terrific quarterback, but not a runner. The Broncos will see more traditional looks. Carr has been pedestrian against Denver in his young career with six touchdowns and four picks.
4) Mack Truck
Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack feels omnipresent. "You have to know where he is at all times when you break the huddle," Siemian said. The reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year brings force and physicality. Former Oakland teammate Menelik Watson will likely have his hands full. Watson showed improvement last week.
5) Back to work
Coach Vance Joseph admitted last Wednesday's practice failed to meet expectations. A week later, he saw better. It is a cold reminder that the Broncos aren't good enough to look past anyone. Every detail matters.
"When you get hit in the mouth like we did you come down off your high horse and get back to work," Anderson said. "It's a big game this week."
6) Stuffed pizza
The Broncos' rush defense continues to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. They are surrendering 59.7 yards per game. No one has excelled on them this year. Contain Marshawn Lynch, and it is a path to victory.
7) Bye, Bye, Bye
There is little enviable about an early bye week, and entering it with a bitter loss only makes it worse. The Broncos are 21-5 at home since the start of the 2014 season. Home dominance is not only needed, but necessary in the AFC West.