This week’s divisional rivalry game between the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders is filled with intrigue, drama and a whole lot of question marks. Both teams enter the game with a 1-2 records, both recording their singular victories against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both teams present captivating quarterback storylines. The jury is still out on Carson Palmer’s performance with the Raiders thus far after the team received him in a late-season trade last year. Many in Raider Nation are praising the veteran quarterback for his statistically impressive start so far, but others are still skeptical in regards to the 1-2 record. Broncos fans are still waiting for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to find their stride as an offensive unit after two consecutive slow starts by the team against the Falcons and Texans.
So as we head into another thrilling and emotionally-charged Broncos-Raiders game, here are five storylines to pay attention to during the match on Sunday.
- Raiders RB Darren McFadden, even though listed as questionable, is expected to start on Sunday, while WR Darrius Heyward-Bey could very well be held out of Week 4 action after suffering a helmet-to-helmet hit against the Steelers. This could mean a heightened focus on the running game and possible 100-yard rushing game for McFadden for the second week in a row.
- This will be Peyton Manning’s first Broncos-Raiders rivalry game in a Denver uniform. In his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Manning said he is ready to compete but doesn’t think he will have a full appreciation for the rivalry until game day. “Being a guy that has an appreciation of football and the history of it, I certainly understand what an important rivalry it is (and) the great teams that have occurred in this series, the great players that have played in these games,” he said.
- The Broncos will be competing against former Denver defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, who is now the head coach for the Raiders. During the 2011 season, it was the Allen-led defense that played a vital role in securing the heroic, last-minute wins, which took the Broncos to the playoffs.
- The Broncos will need to improve on third-down conversions this week. They were 6-17 against the Texans and 4-12 against the Falcons. In order for the offense to be effective, that efficiency has to improve.
- Broncos LB Joe Mays was suspended this week for his hit on Texans QB Matt Schaub on Sunday. The defense will have to go without one of their leading pass rushers for Week 4, leaving the depth at linebacker, a position group already considered to be lacking in talent and experience, spread even thinner.
Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
Kickoff Time: Sunday, 2:05 p.m. MST
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket