Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Keys to the Game

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Sep 27, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) runs the ball during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

3. Run The Ball Early and Often

In both Raider victories on the year, the Raiders ran the ball effectively, for more than five yards per carry as a team. Throughout his long and illustrious career, one of the most proven defenses against Peyton Manning has been to keep him off the field by sustaining long drives and eating clock, and this cannot be accomplished without effectively running the football on early downs and in short yardage 3rd down situations.

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  • This is of course easier said than done. The Raiders have struggled to run the ball effectively to shorten 3rd down situations and move the sticks for much of the season, forcing Derek Carr to carry the load and have to try to keep drives alive through the air. The Broncos defense has been stellar all year, but somewhat mediocre against the run: against Jamaal Charles’ Chiefs and Adrian Peterson’s Vikings they got gashed for over 5  yards per carry, but against the Lions and Ravens they played the run tough – especially against the Lions, who they held to 28 yards on 19 carries.

    What this will come down to is, simply, the Raiders offensive line versus the Broncos defensive front, and Bill Musgrave and Jack Del Rio’s willingness to stick with the run even if it isn’t working early. Against Cleveland, this ability to stick with the run after early failures eventually led to the Raiders getting massive production on the ground, and helped them to the victory.

    If the Raiders defense can keep the score close early and the offensive line can establish their will before too many Raider drives grind to a halt, then the Raiders should be able to produce on the ground and keep Peyton Manning sitting on the bench.

    Next: Keys to the Game: Continue to Protect Derek Carr