This Monday our Oakland Raiders have the chance to prove to the NFL, to Raider nation, and most importantly to themselves, that they are the team to bring back the glory days of old. They’ll be playing a Superbowl contending football team in a hostile away game situation. This game will be the toughest on the schedule but will be a great measure of where our team stands. Looking at the game we’ve identified a few key matchups that should be addressed. We’ll start by looking at our receivers and how we can expect them to compete against the Broncos cornerbacks.
Yesterday Champ Bailey said he believes he can be suited up on Monday night if he continues to progress through his foot injury. Bailey is the Broncos number 1 cornerback. Having him in the line up could throw a major wrench in Oakland’s offensive passing game. While this could pose a larger problem than we would like, the chance of him coming back is still up in the air. Having considered that let’s assume he will be incapable of playing on Monday night. Also, we’ll take Quentin Jammer out of the equation here too. We all know Quentin from his time with the Chargers. Apparently his 12 years of experience haven’t helped him see any playing time this season and I don’t expect to see him on the field Monday night either.
This leaves us with four key receiver-cornerback match ups. Let’s get started!
Receiver: Brice Butler / Cornerback: Kayvon Webster
While I believe Brice Butler is an unexpected threat that will burst onto the scene sometime this season with some spectacular catches, he’s still a rookie and has a lot to learn. So far this season he has three receptions for 18 yards. Having only been targeted 4 times though, that’s really good. The pass he failed to catch was thrown slightly behind him and had it been more accurate he would have scored a touchdown.
Kayvon Webster gets the least amount of accolades on the Broncos secondary. He only has 3 tackles and 1 pass defended. I see him getting little playing time but when he does, he’ll be covering Butler. If that happens then I think Butler will come out with some good yardage in our favor. This match up is the weakest and you’ll probably only see it in the 4th quarter. That being the case, expect some great plays in the fourth quarter. I know Pryor will find a way to connect with Butler with this kind of mismatch.
Receiver: Jacoby Ford / Cornerback: Tony Carter
Jacoby Ford can be electrifying when he gets moving. That’s the key to his success. He has to have space to run after the catch. In the past two games he has 3 receptions for 14 yards. Against the Colts he only had one reception for 2 yards which means the other two receptions came against the Jaguars and averaged 7 yards a piece. Jacoby Ford will be lining up in the slot which might give him a chance to get a few quick catches and try make a break for yards.
Tony Carter has the most passes defended for the Broncos. Carter has 8 passes defended with 7 tackles and 1 interception. He would be the best corner to cover Ford because I see him batting the ball away from Ford before any catch is made. If Carter reads the route then Ford will be neutralized at receiver. If Ford can use his speed to get away from Carter then I see him have a great game and moving us up the field. This match up will have a lot to do with Ford and Pryor’s chemistry as well as whether Carter has the skills to block any passes thrown his way.
Receiver: Denarius Moore / Cornerback: Chris Harris
Denarius Moore is a fan favorite. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from him and we’ve also seen some floundering performances. I expect him to come out on Monday night with a great performance. I think the Broncos defense will focus more on Rod Streater and leave Denarius with an opportunity to make plays. Last week against the Jaguars, Denarius had no catches. He was targeted twice but dropped both balls. His performance against the Colts was much better. Targeted 7 times he made 5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. The advantage here is Terrelle connecting with Denarius on some deep ball throws. Denarius has speed and Terrelle has an arm. Taking advantage of the two could lead to some great gains.
I believe Chris Harris will cover Denarius Moore. Chris Harris has 9 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 3 passes defended. Denver is going to place Harris in a position to be successful. They’re going to hope that Moore has more dropped balls and that Harris will take advantage to pick up an INT. Harris has the most interceptions of all the Broncos cornerbacks and will be looking to pick Pryor off. If Pryor throws a deep ball short of its target, you can expect Harris to take advantage of the situation.
Receiver: Rod Streater / Cornerback: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Since the Raiders don’t have a number 1 receiver, I believe Rodgers-Cromartie will cover the receiver with the most receptions and yards. For us that is Rod Streater. Streater has 8 receptions for 112 yards over the past two games. He has yet to catch one in the endzone but as Terrelle Pryor’s number 1 target I’m sure that stat is not far away. Streater is already on the road to having a much better season that last year. Last year he had 39 receptions (averaging 2.4 receptions per game), 584 yards, and 3 touchdowns. This year he’s averaging 4 receptions a game and if he continues his level of production could catch for over 800 yards. Let’s hope he starts adding up those touchdowns this Monday.
Now, back to Rodger-Cromartie. He is Denver’s number 1 corner with Champ Bailey out on injury. He has 5 tackles, 1 interception, and 2 passes defended against the Giants. He did not play in their first game against the Ravens. Rodgers-Cromartie had early success in his years with the Arizona Cardinals but struggled while in Philadelphia. If we are lucky to get the inconsistent cornerback that Philadelphia had then we should look at his last game as a fluke. If he keeps that level of production up, we can expect to see Steater getting shut down most of the night. I think this will be a good battle between the two players and will be a prime example of how our receiving corp is developing. Keep an eye on this match-up, it’s bound to have it’s thrills.
With the analysis of Raiders receivers and Broncos cornerbacks done, I see the advantage here going to the Broncos. If the Broncos, who have the number 1 run defense in the NFL, stop our running game then the advantage stays with their secondary and our passing game will be torn apart. The one way the advantage turns in our favor is if Pryor can do what he does best and extend the play. If Pryor can extend the play long enough for one of our receivers to get some space then there could be some great connections down the field. Also, if we can establish a strong running game from the beginning then the Broncos will have to load the box giving our receiver more space to make a play. Let us know what you think about how our receivers will do against their corners in the comments below.