Raiders hope to come out of bye week in stride against Broncos

Coming off of their bye week, the Oakland Raiders (4-3) hope to continue their recent dominance over the struggling Denver Broncos (2-5) on Sunday at O.Co Coliseum. 

The Oakland Raiders have beaten the Broncos in their last four contests, including the Monday Night Football season opener in which the Raiders beat the Broncos 23-20 at Mile High Stadium.

Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley pressures quarter back Kyle Orton in their season-opening match up

But this week, both the Raiders and the Broncos will be facing very different teams than they faced in the opening week. 

Quarterback Kyle Orton was the starting quarterback for the Broncos during that opening game. This week, the Raiders will be facing quarterback Tim Tebow who has struggled since being inserted into the starting position during halftime of their week 5 game against the San Diego Chargers.

Since then, Tebow is only completing 46.1 percent of his passes for 412 yards in the air and four touchdowns. Tebow also has one interception and two fumbles in the two-and-a-half game span.

One factor that the Raiders will have to watch for is Tebow’s ability to tuck the ball and rush down field. Tebow already has 159 yards on the ground thus far and is averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

The loss of Orton should be beneficial for the Raiders, as Orton threw for 304 yards and a touchdown in their week 1 game. Tebow started against the Raiders once before, finishing 8/16 for 138 yards and a touchdown in week 15 last year.

The Raiders should also benefit from the departure of the Broncos and NFL leading wide receiver from last season, Brandon Lloyd. The Broncos traded Lloyd to the St. Louis Rams earlier in October for draft picks. Lloyd took advantage of a weak Raiders pass defense that allowed him to haul in six receptions for a game-high 89 yards in the opening-week game.

If the Raiders defensive line can get to Tebow, the Raiders defense should succeed. In their first match up, the Raiders were able to record 5 sacks. They were also able to

Newly-acquired Carson Palmer warms up for the first time in the Silver & Black

stop the run, only allowing 38 rushing yards.

On the other sideline, the Raiders are also very different than the first time that these two teams met this season. Oakland began their trade season by trading for former fourth-overall draft pick Aaron Curry to be their starting weak-linebacker. But the Raiders weren’t done trading before the deadline.

After seeing starting quarterback Jason Campbell go down with a broken collarbone against the Cleveland Browns, the Raiders made a blockbuster trade for then-retired Carson Palmer. 

Palmer has now had three weeks of practice to get in tune with his new receivers, and will be making his first start this Sunday when the Raiders take the field against the Broncos. Because of the new rules in the CBA, Palmer and the receivers put in extra work without the coaches in an attempt to get the chemistry and timing right.

Head coach Hue Jackson turned to Palmer in the second half of the game against the Kansas City Chiefs the week before the bye week. Palmer looked rusty and not in tune with his recievers, finishing 8/21 for 116 yards and three interceptions.

Besides having the Raiders receivers he practiced with last week, he will have a new, but familiar face to throw the ball to. The Raiders signed veteran wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh on Tuesday, who played with Palmer for five years while both were playing for the Cincinnati Bengals. Raiders head coach Hue Jackson was also the wide receivers coach for Houshmandzadeh during that time.

The addition of Houshmandzadeh creates a solid depth chart for the Raiders at wide receiver for Palmer to throw to. Palmer will likely look to keep Darrius Heyward-Bey active as he has been putting together a solid season thus far in his third year.

Heyward-Bey has hauled 27 passes for 434 yards and a touchdown to be the Raiders leading receiver after seven games. Over the last four games, Heyward-Bey has averaged 5.5 receptions for 96 yards per game.

After suffering a sprained foot against the Chiefs in week 7, Raiders running back Darren McFadden has been unable to practice and was seen in a walking boot and on crutches still on Wednesday.

Raiders running back Michael Bush rushes against the Broncos in week 1

With the likeliness of Jackson deciding to rest McFadden in preparation of the Chargers next Thursday, Bush will get the start with rookie running back Taiwan Jones spelling him occasionally. Bush entered the game against the Chiefs after McFadden was injured on the opening drive and finished with 17 carries for 99 yards.

Bush and Jones should be able to find running room against a porous Broncos rush defense that is allowing 117.7 yards per game. The Raiders rushed for 190 yards against the Broncos in their season opener.

The Raiders are also hoping that the bye week has given their kicker Sebastian Janikowski enough time to heal his hamstring, which caused him to miss the Chiefs game.

The Oakland Raiders look to have their new pieces play well when theyl host the Denver Broncos at O.Co Coliseum on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. There is no word yet on whether or not the game has sold out but if the game sells out, it will mark the Raiders selling out all five of their regular season games thus far.

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Author: Chris McClain

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