Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos Preview: Key Matchups

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Sep 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) celebrates after sacking Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (not pictured) during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Broncos won 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Donald Penn and Austin Howard vs. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller

Although Oakland has allowed just five sacks in four games in 2015, there offensive line faces there first true test against some of the best edge-rushers in the NFL.

Veteran outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware currently leads the NFL with 4.5 sacks, while opposite of him stands Von Miller who has accumulated over 20 quarterback pressure and two sacks.

With the ability to both rush the outside shoulder and bull through offensive linemen, Ware and Miller have blossomed into one of the more successful edge-rushing duos in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has done an amazing job in allowing the veteran Ware to exploit one-on-one matchups, while Miller is simply using his top-tier talent to expose opposing team’s right tackles in each and every game.

“Von Miller is the most explosive pass rusher off the ball,” Sports Illustrated writer Bucky Brooks said. “Reminds me of one of my teammates, the late Derrick Thomas. His ability to collapse the pocket immediately off the edge with that burst snap count anticipation is hard to find. Because of that he is problematic off the edge. He creates chaos with just his speed and quickness off the ball.”

Although he hasn’t faced the type of talent Ware and Miller have off the edge, Raiders left tackle Donald Penn has been considered as one the better pass blocking offensive linemen in the league, via Pro Football Focus. With Ware lining up primarily on the right side of the defense, the two veterans should see a lot of each other come Sunday. Both men should have their wins and losses on passing downs, but Oakland should remain confident enough in Penn to not consistently keep a tight end or running back in to chip Ware on the outside.

On the other side, the matchup between Raiders right tackle Austin Howard and Von Miller will likely draw more attention from offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. While Howard has improved since his season debut against Cincinnati, he still can be a liability against quick, explosive edge-rushers. Though he holds his own against a standard bull rush or a slower outside rip move, Howard can sometimes be too slow off the ball to effectively stay in front of the defender or even wash him upfield.

Expect Oakland to keep in blocking tight end Lee Smith in on pass plays in order to help Howard against an edge rush, but he still will likely see some one-on-one situations that might not end well for Derek Carr and the Raiders offense.

Throughout the practice week Musgrave and offensive line coach Mike Tice will had to have created their game plan around keeping the Broncos two edge-rushers from taking over this game, but it will ultimately come down to the type of play we see from Oakland’s two bookends on the offensive line.

Next: Key Matchups: Raiders Pass Coverage Vs. Owen Daniels