Game Scout: Broncos at Raiders

Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Denver Broncos (13-3) at Oakland Raiders (4-11)
Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Coliseum, Oakland - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
*Keys to the game: The Broncos built a 27-7 halftime lead in the first meeting and cruised to a 37-21 victory in Week 3. Denver would love to build another big early advantage and cruise back home with home-field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. QB Peyton Manning will again be without WR Wes Welker (concussion), but he connected with eight different receivers in the first meeting and has plenty of weapons with which to dissect Oakland's 26th-ranked pass defense. Denver's defense could ultimately prove to be the team's Achilles heel in the postseason, and Raiders QB Terrelle Pryor has an opportunity to be successful - despite his agent's assertions - in making a solid final impression in 3013. Oakland is getting solid work from RB Rashad Jennings, while WR Andre Holmes is quickly emerging as a solid big-play threat. Pryor will be playing a Broncos defense minus Von Miller, and must find his way to a few big plays with his legs for the Raiders to threaten an upset.
*Matchup to watch - Broncos C Manny Ramirez vs. Raiders DT Pat Sims: It's not every day you see an interior lineman rack up 15 tackles, a sack and two quarterback hits, but that's what Sims did in last week's loss in San Diego. Ramirez has been solid in the middle for the Broncos, but Sims has the ability to help stymie Denver's ground game and open the pass-rushing doors on passing downs.
*Player spotlight - Broncos OLB Nate Irving: He will replace Miller, just as Irving did during Miller's six-game suspension to begin the season. Irving has 38 tackles on the season, but no sacks.
*Fast facts: Broncos OLB Shaun Phillips had 5.5 of his team-leading 10 sacks during Miller's suspension. ... Pryor has 527 rushing yards, two shy of Rich Gannon's 2000 single-season franchise record for a quarterback.
Oakland has given up an average of 37.5 points over its past four games - and it wasn't playing against Peyton Manning. Denver's defense is a major concern for the playoffs, but the Broncos cruise into the No. 1 seed in the AFC with Manning wearing a headset for much of the fourth quarter.
*Our pick: Broncos 34-24

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