Give Peyton Manning time and he will pick your team apart. Even at 4-0 on the season, the Broncos offensive line has not given Manning a lot of time. They also haven't given the running backs much in the way of room to run.
Manning has always had a way of making his line look better than it is. When he feels pressure, he gets the ball out quickly, which is why despite the terrible play from Broncos tackles Ty Sambrailo and Ryan Harris, the two have given up just three sacks on the season.
Peyton has been under pressure on 46 of 164 drop backs this season (28%). In those instances, he's been sacked 10 times and gone 22 of 36 for 260 yards and 2 touchdowns and 3 interceptions according to Pro Football Focus data. Manning also has a paltry (by his standards) 66.9 passer rating on pressured downs.
The Broncos are 4-0 largely on the backs of their newly dominant defense. That's something the Raiders haven't had much of lately and going against the weak pass protectors in Denver gives Raiders pass rushers Khalil Mack and Aldon Smith an opportunity to get after Manning. And they will need that pass rush to try and keep Manning from picking apart the Raiders' weak secondary.
"Obviously, both those guys are excellent players," Manning said of Mack and Smith. "Everybody has to account for them. Obviously receivers have to get open on time. Obviously offensive line has to be on top of all communications. You have to just account for those guys because both of them can create turnovers and cause long down-and-distances."
After going without a sack in the first two games, the Raiders have dialed up the pressure the past two weeks, accounting for 8 sacks. A big part of that was Aldon Smith acclimating to his new team after being signed two days prior to the season opener. He had his first sack as a Raiders last Sunday and added several run stops as well. Defensive coordinator, Ken Norton Jr sees the rush continuing to get better
"I think the rush is coming along at a level, at the same time we haven't seen our best yet," said Ken Norton Jr. "We haven't seen the best of Khalil [Mack]. We have not seen the best of [Justin] Tuck. We have not seen the best of Aldon [Smith]. Every time we go out, every time we practice, it's so important to our growth."
The offensive line in particular has given up just six sacks, which is not terrible for a four-game stretch. But it's not always about sacks. It's about time to throw and it's about picking up yards on the ground - Something the Broncos are also not doing.
They are 29th in the league, averaging just 78.8 yards per game. The lack of a run game is a major reason the Broncos offense ranks 27th in the NFL in yards per game (304). They won't get much relief in that department from the Raiders' defensive line, which is home to the largest defensive tackle duo in the NFL in Dan Williams and Justin Ellis along with the run stopping abilities of Smith, Mack, and Justin Tuck.
Those five have helped the Raiders to an 11th ranked run defense this season. If you were an opposing team, would you rather face those guys or the Raiders shoddy secondary? That's an easy answer.
With today being the four-year anniversary of Al Davis' death, we key on his famous words "The quarterback musts go down, and he must go down hard."