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The AFC West has been by far the best division in the NFL this year. Led by the two best teams in the division, the Denver
Broncos and Oakland Raiders. Denver hasn’t been that dominant team from last year but they continue to win. The defense has been stout carrying the team once again. Led by linebacker Von Miller, the pass rush, as expected has been defiant and problematic for opposing teams. On offense, it hasn’t gone as smoothly but is still effective and just enough to get victories rather than loses. Trevor Siemian has been solid doing enough to keep chains moving and not turning the ball over frequently. Oakland offensively has been lights out throwing the ball. Derek Carr has put his name into the Most Valuable Player (MVP) conversation playing excellent football basically willing the team to wins late in games. The defense has been the weak link not being able to stop offenses on a consistent basis. In this game, something has to give on both sides of the ball with both teams to decide the winner.
Keys To The Game
Denver’s achilles heel has been their offensive scoring (not counting scores after a short field because of a turnover). They have established a running game with C.J. Anderson but Anderson is out on injured reserve. Devontae Booker has to step up and get chunks of yardage to create third and short. Siemian and the offense must use the screen game to make big plays for the offense which will also get Demaryius Thomas involved in the game. Not having Aqib Talib will hurt them badly which is why the pass rush has to be unstoppable. If they can cause Carr to rush throws and get out of rhythm then it can be smooth sailing for the Broncos.
Oakland can’t get to a slow start offensively if they want to have any chance of winning. In order for the Raiders to be successful in the passing game, the slot receivers (mainly Seth Roberts) have to be huge in this game. Make the safeties have to defend in the passing game which will create single coverage against Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. The defense just has to play discipline football. Knowing that Siemian is not going to beat them single handily, they must stay in their running lanes and don’t get out of position in the passing game then they should be able to give their offense extra possessions. If they can get a pass rush then they can cause the Broncos to have reoccurring third and long(s).
The X-Factors for the Broncos is cornerback Bradly Roby. With Talib being ruled out, He needs to step in to take his place. He has to adjust and must play within the defensive scheme. He will definitely get picked on all game so it is indicative that He is in tuned with the defense and don’t let the match-ups get the best of him.
The X-Factor for the Raiders is Latavius Murray. Murray must do an array of things well in order for the the offense to succeed. Murray has to be successful in rushing the football. He does’t have to have over 100 yards but put them in manageable third downs. Also catch out the backfield as Carr’s safety net and be able to help block out the backfield.
Prediction: As stated before, something has to give. What decides this game is who will dominate the time of possession. With Oakland’s habit of getting off to slow starts, Denver wins this game 21-16.