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Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Scouting the Trenches

I like this pose.
I like this pose.

The Oakland Raiders dominated the Denver Broncos in 2010 by destroying them in the trenches. They are going to have to do more of the same if they want to dominate them on Monday Night Football.

The Raiders are certainly set up to do just this. The Broncos offensive line should be a much improved unit in 2011. LT Ryan Clady is nearing his pre-injury 2009 form. RG Chris Kuper is a solid veteran. LG Zane Beadles and J.D. Walton enter their second year and have had solid preseason. RT Orlando Franklin is looking like a solid second-round choice and should be a decent RT from Week One.

Improvements aside, other than Clady, the Raiders defensive line should be able to win these matchups. They just won't be winning them as easily as they did last year.

The defensive line is a different story. When it comes to rushing the passer the Broncos defensive line is 1000 percent improved. Elvis Dumervil looks like the player he was in 2009. Robert Ayers will start opposite of him at defensive end, and he could make an impact as a pass rusher. Jump over for more....

In passing situations, Ayers will slide inside to tackle and Von Miller will take his spot at defensive end. This is a very formidable pass rushing line. As I am sure you are aware, pass blocking is not the Raiders strong suit. Dumevil and Miller could give Veldheer and Barnes fits. 

The good news is that the Raiders shouldn't be in too many passing situations. The Broncos defensive line is not suited to stop the run. Dumervil is not a slouch against the run, but Ayers will have a hard time sealing the edge. And the defensive tackles shouldn't be able to clog up anything.

Kevin Vickerson will be one of the starting tackles. At 290 pounds, Vickerson is better suited to be a DE in a 3-4. He is certainly not a run stuffing DT.

Brodrick Bunkley is the Broncos other starting defensive tackle. He came to the Broncos from the Eagles. He is a former first-round pick, but he has never lived up to that potential. He is solid at the point of attack and is the Broncos best D-Line run defender. However, Bunkley hurt his knee in the third preseason game and is questionable for this Monday Night game. Even if he does go, it does not sound like he will be 100 percent.

If he can't go Ryan McBean will take his spot. McBean is garbage. Especially against the run. He gets pushed around easily and struggles mightily at the point of attack.

The Broncos lack power on the interior defensive line. This plays right into the hands of the more finesse blocking styling of Cooper and Satele. It will also be a nice way for Wisniewski to break into the NFL. He won't face any bull rushes in this game that he didn't routinely face in college.

The Raiders offensive line should be able to kill the Broncos defensive line in the run game. If they don't, it could be a long season.