Latavius Murray and Company Will Keep Offense Balanced
Denver’s secondary has prevented opposing offenses from having success through the air, but their troops on the ground and in the trenches have failed to follow suit.
According to NFL.com, the Broncos have the 23rd ranked rushing defense in terms of yards per game (117.4).
With former Broncos defensive tackle Malik Jackson taking his talents to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the offseason, a glaring hole has opened up within Denver’s interior defensive line.
Fourth-year defensive tackle Sylvester Williams has failed to fill Jackson’s big shoes at nose tackle, and veteran defensive end Jared Crick has carried his mediocre play over from the Houston Texans to Denver.
Similarly, inside linebacker Danny Trevathan’s departure to the Chicago Bears has opened a similar hole at the second level of the Broncos’ defense.
Veteran linebacker Brandon Marshall has struggled since stepping into the lead role at the center of Denver’s defense, and the rotation of third-year linebackers Todd Davis and Corey Nelson have only added a sense of inconsistency to an already struggling linebacking corps.
In contrast, Oakland’s rotation at the running back position has exploded through gaping holes rather than creating them.
Lead back Latavius Murray has carried the ball 69 times for 279 yards and 5 touchdowns to push the Raiders’ rushing attack into the top 10 in the league in terms of average rushing yards per game (116.5).
Behind Murray, rookie Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington have combined for 87 carries for 484 rushing yards (5.56 yards per carry) and one touchdown, adding a change of pace to the Raiders’ rushing offense that has directly contributed to Murray’s success.
"“The plan has been all week that we understand how fast they flow, and how fast they react, and their athletic ability that they have on the field,” Richard said, per Raiders.com. “Obviously, they have Von Miller, so we have to get as many people to touch him before he gets going. Whenever he gets going, it’s hard for any offensive lineman to get their hands on him. He’s one heck of an athlete, so we’re going to try to get as many hands on him, as far as pass blocking and run blocking to slow him down, and just run right at him.”"
Prediction: Denver Broncos 20; Oakland Raiders 24