Raider nation has it’s eyes fixed on Monday night. You can feel the anticipation building as each day goes on. Recently we covered how the Raiders receivers would fare against the Broncos cornerbacks. Measuring just those players against one an other gives the Broncos the advantage. Let’s flip to the other side of the ball. How will our corners fare against their receivers? This is going to be a much more difficult transaction because both sides have strong talent here. As with the last article of this nature, we won’t take into account Tight Ends, Fullbacks, or Running backs even though these guys can also be receiving threats.
Cornerback: DJ Hayden / Receiver: Eric Decker
You’re going to see a lot of balls being thrown Hayden’s way. A quarterback like Manning knows he needs to take advantage of any rookie corners. I see the coaching staff placing Hayden to cover Eric Decker. Decker has been targeted 20 times and made 11 receptions for 119 yards but has yet to record a touchdown. He’s less of a threat in the red zone but he could be a big threat in moving the chains and keeping our defense on the field.
DJ Hayden has played well in his first two regular season starts. He has 8 tackles and 1 pass defended in the past two games. He has great man coverage skills but you can see his inexperience when the ball is thrown his way. He forgets to turn and look for the ball when he’s covering a receiver and this could lead to some penalties on Monday if he’s not careful. This game will be his trial by fire. This game will also give him the opportunity to show raider nation that Reggie made the right choice picking him up in the first round this draft. There should be a lot of action in this match up but we know Manning is good at spreading the ball around.
Cornerback: Mike Jenkins / Receiver: Demaryius Thomas
This match up is more even than the last. Mike Jenkins is a good corner but he’s covering a strong receiver. Thomas has been targeted 17 times the past two games and made 10 receptions for 213 yards and 2 touchdowns with those opportunities. He did not score a touchdown in their last game against the Giants and did have a fumble but he was still a threat on the field. Manning likes to target him and you can expect that to continue this Monday.
Mike Jenkins has 7 tackles and 1 pass defended. When it comes to this match up we’ll need Jenkins to play his best and bat down some more balls. The less completions he allows Thomas to make the quicker you’ll see our offense back on the field. You can expect him to make his presence known all game just like he has the past two weeks. The match up here is pretty even and comes down to our defense coordinator making the right coverage calls and whether Manning’s throws are out of Jenkin’s reach.
Cornerback: Tracy Porter / Receiver: Wes Welker
Wes Welker was a big addition to Denver’s receiving corp. From his history with Brady and the Patriots we know the damage Welker can do. These past two games Manning has targeted him 19 times. Welker has turned those 19 threats into 106 yards and 3 touchdowns. From the moment he showed up in Denver he and Manning have had a great connection and that poses a huge problem for our secondary.
Tracy Porter is the best corner we have to cover Welker. Currently he has 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and 3 passes defended. This means while he’s the best corner to cover Welker, he’ll also probably be used to put pressure on Manning. If we can disrupt Manning from making the connections with Welker that is great but it comes at the expense of Manning dumping the ball into Welker’s hands quickly. When it comes to the one on one match up, I think it’s pretty even here too.
Our corners are talented and, with the exception of Hayden, experienced. I think we have a good chance of slowing down the Broncos passing game but Manning will do what he needs to do to find a way to get yards. Our number 4 ranked defense in yards per game (number 5 in defending the pass) against the Broncos number 2 offensive yards per game (number 3 passing offense) is going to create a fun game to watch. You’ll be on the edge of your seats the entire game when our defense hits the field.