Week 3: Broncos-Raiders matchup analysis

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Oakland Raiders (1-1) at Denver Broncos (2-0)
Monday, 8:40 p.m. ET, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver - TV: ESPN
*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Suzy Kolber
*Keys to the game: How do you stop a quarterback who has thrown nine touchdowns through two games? The best way is to take away his protection, and that's exactly what happened when Broncos LT Ryan Clady was lost for the season. The Raiders believe they have taken a major stride defensively - tying for the league lead in sacks (nine) while allowing an average of just 15 points entering Week 3. But this isn't a home game against Jacksonville. It's Monday night in Denver, and Manning has a slew of weapons to dish the ball to quickly if Oakland amps up the pressure - namely WR Wes Welker and TE Julius Thomas. The Raiders will attempt to control the tempo with their ground game, which includes utilizing QB Terrelle Pryor's legs and setting him up in high percentage passing situations as they attempt to limit Manning's possessions.
*Matchup to watch - Raiders DE Lamarr Houston vs. Broncos LT Chris Clark: Clark has migrated from the practice squad to protecting the blind side of one of the greatest quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. Clark has started six career games - as a third-string tight end when Denver altered its entire offense to suit Tim Tebow. He did work with the first team over the offseason while Clady was sidelined, so he has some familiarity with Manning's checks and calls.
*Player spotlight - Raiders RCB Tracy Porter: The former Bronco returns to Mile High and will do battle with WRs Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, who he practiced against daily last season - when healthy.
*Fast facts: The Raiders have not forced a turnover through two games. ... The Broncos have a 13-game regular-season winning streak, one shy of the franchise record.
The Broncos may use more two-tight end formations until they assess how well Chris Clark can protect Peyton Manning's blind side. Regardless, Manning has a quick release and plenty of options in the short passing game who can rack up yards after the catch.
*Our pick: Broncos 30-16

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