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Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction

Von Miller

Von Miller

Both the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos lost their Week 3 games. The Raiders (2-1) lost on Sunday night to the Redskins while the Broncos (2-1) had a surprising loss to the Bills in Buffalo. Prior to last week, Oakland had beaten a good Tennessee Titans team on the road and then destroyed the New York Jets in its home opener. However, in Week 3 the Raiders took a step backward as they couldn't get anything going against Washington.

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Denver also won its first two games of the year, surviving the Chargers at home before blasting Dallas but Trevor Siemian threw two interceptions and Steven Hauschka connected on four goals, two from more than 50 yards out, as the Broncos fell 26-16 to the Bills.

These longtime division rivals split their two meetings last year with the home team winning both times. Oakland enjoys a 62-51-2 edge (including playoff games) in the all-time series.

Oakland at Denver

Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 1 at 4:25 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Denver -3

Three Things to Watch

1. Derek Carr

In last week’s 27-10 loss to Washington, Carr wasn't himself. He completed just 19 of 31 pass attempts for 118 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. His quarterback rating of 52.7 was the second lowest of his career ahead of only a 50.5 mark in his rookie year of 2014 in 52-0 loss to the then-St. Louis Rams.

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Denver has been a place where Carr has struggled in his career. In 25 offensive possessions in 2014 and ’15 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Raiders punted 19 times, scored three touchdowns, turned it over twice and missed a field goal.

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Last year, Carr played just once against Denver, as he missed the Week 17 finale because of a broken right fibula. In the game he did play, Carr threw for only 184 yards  (on 20-of-31 passing), but he didn’t turn the ball over either as Oakland won 30-20 at home in Week 9 behind 114 rushing yards and three touchdowns from running back Latavius Murray, who now plays for Minnesota.

2. Broncos’ defense

Denver's defense is currently fourth in the NFL in at 263 yards allowed per game.  Last week’s game in Washington notwithstanding, the Broncos will have a challenge facing the Raiders’ potent offense.

After shutting down Dallas at home in Week 2, Denver had some trouble with Buffalo’s offense on the road. Tyrod Taylor completed 20 of his 26 pass attempts for 213 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked four times and the Bills managed just 75 rushing yards (2.3 ypc) but they didn’t the ball over either and made the most out of their scoring chances.

Even though these teams split their two meetings last season, Oakland made the playoffs and Denver, the defending Super Bowl champions that year, did not. Just like it did against Dallas, expect the Broncos’ defense to be fired up for this game against their division rival.

3. Marshawn Lynch

For all the hype that came with the Raiders luring Marshawn Lynch out of retirement, the production simply hasn’t been there for the five-time Pro Bowler. Through three games, Lynch has rushed for only 139 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries.

In a game against a tough Denver defense that is among the best in the NFL, Lynch will need to take pressure off of Carr and the rest of the Raiders’ offense. But it won’t be easy, as the Broncos have given up less than 60 rushing yards per game (2.6 ypc) entering this afternoon’s game.

When talking to the media this week, Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said he still respects Lynch a great deal.  "The best thing he does is break tackles," Joseph said. "He averages, after contact, three yards. That's a special talent he has. We have to gang tackle. We have to chase the ball, and you cannot assume the first guy's got him, because if you do that, the first guy is not really going to get him all the time."

Final Analysis

It is possible that the Raiders and the Broncos could both end up making the playoffs coming out of the AFC West, even though the Chiefs (3-0) have gotten off to a great start. So with much on the line for the first of two meetings between these divisional rivals don’t be surprised if this game comes down to which team controls the line, of scrimmage that is.

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Oakland and Denver boast arguably the two best pass rushers in the league in Khalil Mack (above, right) and Von Miller, who finished first and second in the voting for 2016 NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. Either player is capable of winning this game on their own. And with the Broncos being at home, it’s hard to against Miller and company.

Prediction: Broncos 27, Raiders 24​

— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.