This Sunday, the (6-2) Oakland Raiders host the division rival (6-2) Denver Broncos, with first place in the AFC West on the line. Let’s take a quick look at the history between these two teams.
Total Games Between the Raiders and the Broncos: 113
All-Time Record: Raiders lead, 61-50-2
Current Streak: 1, a 15-12 Raiders victory over the Broncos in December 2015
Total Raiders Points Scored, Head-to-Head: 2,435 (21.5 ppg)
Total Broncos Points Scored, Head-to-Head: 2,330 (20.6 ppg)
Longest Raiders Winning Streak Against Broncos: 14 (November 21st, 1965 – October 22nd, 1971)
Longest Broncos Winning Streak Against Raiders: 8 (November 6th, 2011 – December 13th, 2015)
Two weeks ago, I told you that if there were any AFC West rivalry game that, historically speaking, defined our division more than the others, it’d be Raiders/Chiefs, only a week after telling you that there was no game or matchup that defined this division any more than the others.
Have you caught onto the joke yet?
Due to the relative success the Denver Broncos have had over the course of the past twenty years, in conjunction with the utter lack of success the Raiders have had over the same timeframe, the uninitiated among us may feel like we’ve forever been Denver’s doormats, the downtrodden underdog clamoring for supremacy and recognition among the long-reigning face of the AFC West.
But we are initiated, aren’t we? Of course we are. We know better.
These two teams began to face off in 1960 as part of the original AFL, and have met for every year since. That’s half a century of bad blood, and again, very much a large part why all of these games are so important. The AFC West isn’t a division — it’s an institution.
Case in point — the Raiders/Broncos series is tied for the most meetings on Monday Night Football in the history of the league with 17. What’s more, that only recently became the case, when Dallas and Washington played on MNF last season.
Now ask yourself — when was the last time the Raiders were on Monday Night Football?
Last week, during a crowd shot at the Chargers/Broncos game, I spotted a guy in that nauseating cesspool of orange, wearing a shirt with the words “RAIDER HATER” emblazoned across the front in blue letters. Still very much high off of our recently-ended OT victory versus Tampa Bay, I beamed like a proud father who’d just seen his son hit his first home run.
“Aww,” I thought. “I miss you guys, too!”
Homie was no doubt still salty about last year’s late season meeting against Denver, in which Khalil Mack Milly Rocked his way into America’s hearts with a masterful five-sack performance.
In the grand scheme of tangible things, that game didn’t mean much — the Broncos would still go onto carry Peyton Manning’s hologram to a Super Bowl victory a little over a month later, and Oakland, of course, missed the playoffs. But after four years and eight straight games of dismissing the Raiders entirely, that showing served as an incredibly rude acknowledgement of a fact that Broncos fans had long been trying to deny — the Silver & Black were on their way back.
Truth be told, even the first game between the two last season should’ve been a sign that the tide was turning. Explain it away however you’d like — sure, maybe a washed-up Peyton no longer had what it took to shoulder the weight of his offense. Regardless, that game was close up until Derek Carr’s pick-six in the fourth quarter, and I might even argue that, minus that mistake and a couple of missed Janikowski field goals, we’d be talking about the Raiders sweeping of last year’s Super Bowl champions.
But should-ofs and could-ofs don’t do us any good for the here and now. Here and now, the 2016 Oakland Raiders and the 2016 Denver Broncos are tied at 6-2 for a share of first place in the AFC West at mid-season’s point. And it’s only fitting — they’ve split their last two regular season meetings, since 1994, they’ve been split in postseason meetings (one apiece). And for the first time ever, they’re tied in number of Super Bowl victories.
They will meet on national television this Sunday night in the Black Hole to sort this whole thing out. And in one way or another, it will be yet one more memorable chapter of the AFC West’s rich and colorful history.
Is this one a little bit more important than the rest? Slightly. Possibly.
Enjoy the game, Nation.