An early look at Week 3: Keys to compete vs Denver Broncos

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a dominating performance against Jacksonville, Oakland travels to Denver for a Monday Night showdown with one of the best teams in the league.

A win is a win, and even though it was against the lowly Jaguars — the Raiders will take any victory they can get.

That said, if the attention hasn't already shifted to Peyton Manning and the Broncos, there's a problem.

In talking to Charles Woodson, however, the focus is clear.

“It’s one win. There’s bigger fish out there," Woodson said following the Raiders week two win over the Jaguars. "We got a tough one coming up. I took a glance at the score here coming in after our game and it looks like Denver put up a lot of points again so we gotta get over this one pretty quickly and get on our film and see how Denver’s gonna try and attack us as a team next week on the big stage. So, we gotta get over this one.”

While the outside world continues to degrade the Raiders with qualifiers following their valiant effort in Indianapolis and their meager win over Jacksonville, Week 3 is the test that will give a clearer picture of where this Oakland team is at.

Even more, it will shed some serious light on the development of Terrelle Pryor.

Has his performance this season been the product of poor competition? A limited playbook? Or has the third-year man out of Ohio State really started to turn the corner?

No better place to answer those questions than in prime time with everyone watching.

Unfortunately, the Raiders open up a 14.5 point underdog on Sportsbook.com, so it sounds like the experts aren't expecting Pryor to provide many positive answers Monday night. Now with a full week before the game kicks off, what are the keys Oakland needs to be focusing on this week in practice?

For starters, they must limit turnovers.

In two games this season, Denver has forced a league-leading six interceptions — and that's from Eli Manning and Joe Flacco, two of the better quarterbacks in the league. Sure, both guys aren't exactly immune to turning the ball over, but neither is Pryor.

If Oakland wants to stay close in this game, Pryor can't turn the ball over.

Secondly, they have to stick to the run game. In two games this season, Denver has allowed just 82 yards rushing and a yards-per-carry of just two. Both numbers also best in the league. The good news for Oakland is that running the ball is the strength of their offense, as the Raiders lead the league with nearly 400 yards rushing in the first two games of the season.

Finally, as Levi pointed out yesterday, the Raiders need to finish drives.

On Sunday, Sebastian Janikowski converted three field goals of 30-yards or less, something that won't cut it against an elite team like Denver. Field goals aren't bad, especially when your kicker can be such a weapon, but once a team gets inside the red zone, they need to be producing more 7s than 3s.

So what do you think, can the Raiders shock the world and compete with Denver on Monday night? Will they cover the spread? Will they win?

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