As the Oakland Raiders focus their attention on the Denver Broncos on a short week, quarterback Carson Palmer knows it will be a difficult test. The Thursday night match-up makes it even more difficult to prepare for the Denver Broncos solid defense.
“There isn’t one and we’ve looked,” Palmer said of holes in the Denver defense. “It’s a very solid group. They cover well on the outside. They pressure the quarterback. They’re very good against the run. There’s not a young guy that you want to take advantage of. It’s just a very solid group from spot one to 11.”
The statistics back up Palmer. The Broncos are ranked 6th in the NFL in passing yards allowed at just 211.8 per game and 7th in rushing yards allowed at 96.4 per game. The Raiders were only able to muster 6 points against Denver in the team's first meeting. They were held to 237 yards of total offense and Palmer only threw for 202 yards.
This week, the Raiders could welcome back running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson. Both have missed the last four games with high ankle sprains. Despite the fact that fullback Marcel Reece has done a terrific job filling in when the pair were injured, the Raiders could use the offensive boost. In the first meeting, Denver held the Raiders to just 56 rushing yards. McFadden carried 13 times for just 34 yards, but Goodson found success in limited touches with 22 yards on three carries. In order for Oakland to compete in this game, they must control the possession by running the football. If they can do that successfully it will limit the opportunities for Peyton Manning.
“I noticed it last week, he was starting to get it and showed it a number of different times,” Palmer said of McFadden. “He’s back, he’s ready to play. I can’t wait to watch him. He brings a chance for Marcel to get some rest. Marcel has been getting a ton of reps and obviously an explosive element to the game that he has unlike many other players in this league.”
Last week wide receiver Denarius Moore was taken out of the game due to his poor performance. Moore dropped several passes forcing the coaching staff to remove him from the game. Moore is expected to be back on the field this week. It will be interesting to see if the benching motivates him or hurts his confidence.
“Denarius is very prideful,” Palmer said. “I know he didn’t like what happened to him and if anybody is going to bounce back, it’s him because of the way he is and the way he’s built.”
One of the keys for the Raiders will be slowing down the Denver pass rush. That means the offensive line must account for linebackers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil haunted the Raiders in the first meeting accounting for three quarterback hits and one and a half sacks. Miller added two hits to Palmer and a tackle for loss.
“Dumervil has been doing it since he’s been healthy and before he got that injury, I believe last year,” Palmer said. “It’s a really good combination because the thing about Von Miller he plays the run too. People don’t realize that he gets up in there and sheds blocks well. At the point of attack, he’s really strong and powerful. He kind of does it all.”
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