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Raiders needed to beat Broncos in the trenches and they absolutely did not

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Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Whichever team was to establish the run game in this division match-up in Denver figured to come out victorious. As we pointed out last week, the Broncos had the league’s top ranked run defense and third ranked run offense. Both held up and because of it the Broncos now sit at 3-1 and the Raiders drop to 2-2.

It seemed like there was hope the Raiders could be the team that would cut through the Broncos’ run defense. What with their Pro Bowlers in Donald Penn, Kelechi Osemele and Rodney Hudson and last season’s 6th ranked rushing offense with Marshawn Lynch now leading the way.

It also seemed like they may be able to slow down their running game. What with the return of Mario Edwards Jr, a ‘leaner’ more nimble Justin Ellis and the emergence of rookie Eddie Vanderdoes.

Neither happened.

The Raiders were dominated in both areas.

The Broncos were allowing a league low 2.6 yards per carry coming in. And they held the Raiders to 1.6 yards per carry with 15 carries for 24 yards.

Marshawn Lynch — who they desperately needed to step up — had just 12 yards on 9 carries (1.3 yards per carry). And that led the team. After running for 76 yards in the opener, he has just 75 yards in the past three games combined, with his yards per game and yards per carry going down every week — 76 (4.2 ypc), 45 (3.75), 18 (3.0), 12 (1.3).

On the other side of things, the Broncos were eerily consistent. They ran 16 times in the first half for 71 yards (4.4 ypc) and 16 times in the second half for 72 yards (4.5 ypc) for a total of 143 yards.

CJ Anderson led the way with 20 carries for 95 yards (4.8 ypc). That included a 40-yard run early in the third quarter to set up a field goal and a 12-yard run on the following drive to set up another field goal.

On top of that, Carr was hit four times and sacked twice, one of which injured his back and he was knocked out of the game. That hit didn’t come around the edge, either. It came right up the middle from Adam Gotsis.

If you would like to see Khalil Mack as a trench player and consider his monster game in this, that’s up to you. But I am not talking about edge rushers here. I’m talking about the big fellas on the interior and the agile fellas who run between/behind them. That’s where the Raiders were pummeled on both sides of the ball from start to finish.

Until they get that figured out, we will continue to see this team stumble and fall flat on their face.