The Oakland Raiders return home to finish up the season in front of the Raider Nation, hoping to end a five-game losing streak and head into the offseason on a somewhat positive note.
But the Raiders certainly left themselves a difficult match-up for their last chance to get a fifth victory on the season: the 12-3 Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos.
The Broncos coming into the game having secured their third-consecutive AFC West Divisional title but benefit with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a victory against the Raiders at O.Co Coliseum on Sunday, meaning the Raiders will get the Broncos’ complete effort.
Though Manning already holds the record for most touchdown passes in a season (set at 51 last week), he will be looking to extend the record while also breaking Drew Brees’ record for most passing yards in a season. The veteran needs just 265 yards this week against the Raiders to beat it. The Raiders are allowing 250.5 passing yards per game, but gave up 374 yards and three touchdowns to Manning in week three.
Manning loves to spread the ball around to his target, but wide receiver Demaryius Thomas leads Denver in receiving yards with 1,194 yards and 11 touchdowns. Thomas had 10 receptions for 94 yards when the Raiders took on the Broncos in week three. Fellow wide receiver Eric Decker led the team in yardage during said match-up, hauling in eight receptions for 133 yards and one touchdown.
Running back Knowshon Moreno has led the way on the ground for the Broncos thus far with 939 yards and 10 touchdowns, while adding 53 receptions for 481 yards. But with postseason coming upon us, the Broncos may look towards a more running-back-by-committee strategy for Sunday to help conserve Moreno for the playoffs. This means that rookie running back Montee Ball could continue to see an increase in playing time. Ball has shown why he was drafted in the second round while averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
The Raiders turned to undrafted rookie Matt McGloin as the starting quarterback the last six weeks but are handing the job back over to the athletic Terrelle Pryor for their season-finale.
With little to play for, the coaching staff likely wants to get more film on Pryor for evaluation purposes, though Raiders head coach Dennis Allen states his young quarterback gives them “the best chance to win.” Pryor currently leads all quarterbacks with 527 rushing yards and needs just three more rushing yards to break Rich Gannon’s Raiders record of 529 rushing yards in a season, set in 2000.
Pryor started their week-three matchup with the Broncos and performed well, finishing 19-28 for 281 yards and no turnovers.
The no turnovers part will be key in this week’s match-up once again as teams can ill-afford to give Manning extra possessions, especially if they occur on a short field.
The Raiders offense will look to hold on to the ball for long periods of time in order to keep Manning and the Broncos’ prolific offense off the field. The Raiders only held on tot he ball for 24:36 of the two teams’ last match-up, they’ll look to win the time of possession margin this time around.
The Raiders coaching staff hopes to finish the season on a strong note with so many questions remaining heading into the off season.
MILESTONES TO WATCH FOR:
DE Lamarr Houston
• Needs three sacks to enter the top 20 in Raiders team history.
K Sebastian Janikowski
• Has now converted on 163-consecutive PAT attempts.
• Needs just 13 points to reach 1,500 for his career.
• Needs 22 games played to pass Tim Brown and move into sole possession of first
place on the Raiders’ all-time games played list.
CB Mike Jenkins
• Needs one interception to eclipse 10 for his career.
RB Rashad Jennings
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 724 rushing yards on the year.
• Has already surpassed his career-high with 1,008 total yards on the year.
RB Darren McFadden
• Needs 307 rushing yards to eclipse 4,000 yards for his career.
• Needs 462 receiving yards to eclipse 1,500 yards for his career.
• Needs one rushing TD to tie No. 8 Charlie Smith (24, 1968-74) on the franchise’s
career list. McFadden enters the game with 23.
WR Denarius Moore
• Needs nine receiving yards to reach 2,000 for his career.
QB Terrelle Pryor
• Is currently first amongst all quarterbacks with 527 rushing yards. Pryor could
eclipse the Raiders’ single-season mark of rushing yards by a quarterback with just
3 more yards. Rich Gannon set the mark in 2000 with 529.
WR Rod Streater
• Needs 68 receiving yards to reach 1,500 for his career and 152 for 1,000 this year.
S Charles Woodson
• Needs six interceptions to tie Ed Reed for first on the interceptions list among all
active players with 62.
• Needs one INT-TD to pass Rod Woodson for first on the all-time list with 12.
• Needs one defensive touchdown to pass Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper for the
most defensive touchdowns in NFL history with 13.