Everyone who is anyone knows that the storied rivalry between the Broncos and their fellow AFC Westerners, the Oakland Raiders, is ageless and not talent-dependent.
Tomorrow afternoon, the two teams carry-on round one of that rivalry at Sports Authority Field, which will hopefully yield better results for the Broncos than last week now that the regular officials are back (woohoo!).
If not, the Broncos will get another chance on a Thursday night game in December at home for the Raiders, who said their home fans were scary anyway?
Talent levels have fluctuated from year to year, usually favoring one team or the other. But this year, the Raiders are also 1-2 and their stats compare remarkably well with ours.
We barely have the edge in points per game (25.7-20.3) and total yards per game (348.3-346), only significantly pulling ahead in rushing yards per game, (90.3-62.3) thanks to Willis McGahee’s 213 yards on the season. However, Oakland’s rush is 31st int he league, so it is not that impressive. Carson Palmer has thrown for an average of 283.7 yards per game while Manning averages 258.
Defensively, we are better by a slim margin. Both teams allow a high average of points per game, the Crush at 25.7 and Raiders at 29.3. We are better against the running game, allowing 98 ypg to Oakland’s 116.
Although the Raiders lead in all-time meetings 59-42-2, Denver won the very first matchup in 1960 and also picked up the “W” last year with Tim Tebow. We have also won a Super Bowl more recently, taking back-to-back Lombardi’s in 1997 and ’98 behind good old number 7. The Raiders did make a Bowl appearance in 2003 but fell 48-21 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Strangely enough, both teams have picked up their only win of the season against the Steelers; the Raiders posting losses against Miami and San Diego.
Pathetically, the Chargers are the only team in the AFC West to have a record above 500, making ours the weakest division in the NFL.
Nonetheless, since the talent appears so evenly matched on paper, it should make for an exciting game. Though our roster does boast much bigger names and happier paychecks. No on is going to take Carson Palmer over Peyton Manning in a bet.
No matter what the critics or scoreboards might say, Manning and the Broncos still have it. The first game of the season was beginners luck, albeit beautiful. But these middle few weeks may show us the growing pains every team must go through after so many changes are made.
We have a new defensive coordinator, new safeties, second-year receivers, a rookie tight end and oh yeah, a brand new quarterback coming off of a yearlong hiatus for neck surgery.
Consider this, Manning played with his Indianapolis offense for fourteen years, they knew each other better than their own wives. We have proven ourselves once, and we will do so again, in a big way. Just allow a little breathing room for the learning curve.