Garrett Ellwood - Getty Images
The Raiders head into Invesco Stadium at Mile High to face the rival Broncos this week. It is the first time the Raiders will face the Broncos since their former defensive coordinator, Dennis Allen, became the Raiders' head coach and since Peyton Manning took over as quarterback for the Broncos. There are some nice matchups this week so let's get to it.
Peyton Manning vs Michael Huff
There have been some questions about Peyton Manning's arm strength since he returned this season. But if Huff continues to play more than ten yards off his receiver, Manning won't have to throw very far to get a completion. The Steelers used several bubble screens and zero routes to great success on Sunday. If the Raiders change it up and play Huff closer to his man (which they should), Manning will still test Huff's corner abilities knowing he is a safety by trade.
For Huff, this is a real trial by fire having to face Ben Roethlisberger followed by Peyton Manning. He had a rough first game after just one week of practice with the first team at corner. With two weeks under his belt, he will look to show improvement. He will need it too. The Broncos may have lost the past two weeks against the Falcons and Texans but in those games, Manning launched a comeback against two of the better defenses in the NFL. No lead will be safe with Manning and Huff will have a target on his back.
Darren McFadden vs Keith Brooking
The Raiders best weapon showed up last week against the Steelers to the tune of 113 yards rushing. The Broncos will be without starting middle linebacker, Joe Mays, who is suspended this week for the vicious hit he laid on Matt Schaub last week.
Stepping in will be 15 year veteran, Keith Brooking who hasn't played middle linebacker since 2007. It will be Brooking's number one priority to try to keep McFadden under wraps.
Part of the success of McFadden last week was the Steelers being without All Pro free safety Troy Polamalu. It was Polamalu's replacement, Ryan Mundy, who McFadden juked on his 64-yard sprint for a touchdown. That's a tackle Polamalu probably would have made. It's a similar situation with Brooking who is not the player he once was and that one step slow is all McFadden needs to take it to the house.
The Raiders left tackle has shown himself to be one of the best in the business. He will need to be at his best facing Elvis Dumervil. The All Pro defensive end had 26.5 sacks over the past two seasons and has one already this season. If Carson Palmer is to get the time he needs to run this offense, Veldheer must keep Dumervil out of the backfield. Palmer will have enough difficulty running the offense with the crowd noise. He will need time to make his reads and he will need a sufficient pocket to do that.
Tommy Kelly vs Manuel Ramirez
The best offensive lineman the Broncos have had in recent years has been vetern Chris Kuper. He has not played this season with a forearm injury and is doubtful for Sunday's game. In his place is Manuel Ramirez who has had difficulties. He gave up a sack last week to JJ Watt of the Texans and the Broncos surrendered 2 sacks for Falcons' interior defensive linemen in week two. Tommy Kelly has been ineffective thus far in the season and last week was able to must just .5 tackles. But despite his struggles, Willis McGahee is still averaging a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. Tommy Kelly has to take advantage of what should be a mismatch and get into the Broncos backfield as well as clog running lanes in the middle.