The Examiner breaks down the Raiders-Broncos game, including what it will take to win, the matchups, a word about the coaches, our humble predictions and broadcast information.
THREE KEYS TO A VICTORY
1. By far the biggest name from the Raiders’ most recent draft is No. 1 overall pick JaMarcus Russell. And while talk of Russell getting worked into the offense remains little more than rumor right now, one rookie has made a significant — though not spectacular — impact on this year’s team. Tight end Zach Miller is second among rookie tight ends with 28 catches, good for 255 yards and a touchdown. His role in the offense only seems to be increasing, so if that other rookie ever gets on the field, he might find the 6-foot-5 Miller an easy target.
2. Denver coach Mike Shanahan said Thursday that the main weapons in the Broncos’ rushing attack, Travis Henry and rookie Selvin Young, should be able to suit up for Sunday’s game. That could spell trouble for the Raiders, who have consisitently struggled stopping the ball on the ground.
3. Raiders fans must have been pleased to see LaMont Jordan get back in the end zone in Week 12. Justin Fargas has emerged as a star in the making, but if both backs can get going, Denver’s porous, 29th-ranked rush defense might be in in for a long day.
BRANDON MARSHALL vs. STANFORD ROUTT
Marshall: Broncos’ leading receiver has 847 yards and four touchdowns on the season.
Routt: Will look to snag another interception; hasn’t recorded one since Week 7.
JAY CUTLER vs. GERARD WARREN
Cutler: Second-year QB has started to look more like the strong-armed leader he was billed as.
Warren: Will former Bronco be able to notch his fourth sack of the year against his old team?
ELVIS DUMERVIL vs. DAUNTE CULPEPPER
Dumervil: Leads Broncos’ pass rush with eight sacks on the year. Can Raiders keep him at bay?
Culpepper: Strong Week 11 was followed by iffy game against Chiefs. Banged-up, but should start.
Not only would a win give Lane Kiffin’s Raiders back-to-back victories, but it would avenge the Week 2 loss in Denver, when Mike Shanahan’s last-second timeout erased what could have been a game-winning FG.
Mike Shanahan had to have been furious that his Broncos blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead last week in Chicago, and you can bet he’s glad he won’t have to face Devin Hester again this year. But can Denver bounce back?
THE EXAMINER PREDICTS …
While this has been a largely disappointing season for both teams, rivalry games have a way of bringing intensity out of players. Expect a close contest in which the Raiders get a boost from their faithful — and Justin Fargas — and edge the Broncos. RAIDERS 20, BRONCOS 17
BRONCOS at RAIDERS
Sunday, 1:05 p.m.
TV: KPIX (Ch. 5)
Radio: KSFO (560 AM)