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Denver Broncos Defense

Rainman M.

Sunday, October 1, 2017 2:53 PM UTC

Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017 2:53 PM UTC

Denver (2-1) hosts Oakland (2-1) on Sunday at 4:25 PM ET. The spread opened at PK but the Broncos are now favored by 3.  The total opened at 47, but that number has dropped to 45.5.

Oakland Raiders vs Denver Broncos

Two key match-up questions confront the Raiders: will they be able to apply pressure on Trevor Siemian? And will they be able to run the ball on Denver's run defense?

The first question is important because Siemian has one of the lowest QB ratings when facing pressure. When he faced Buffalo, who boasts a significant pass rush led by 3 Pro Bowlers on their defensive line, he was 24/40 with 259 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. When he faced Dallas the week before and faced much less pressure, he was 22/32 with 231 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. 

Whereas Buffalo is 7th in sacks per game, Oakland is 26th. Last year they were last. Outside of Khalil Mack, the Raiders' defensive line lacks play-makers. The Raiders lack the ability to apply pressure to Siemien, 

Siemian has flashed promising arm strength and accuracy. He can blaze his passes into tight windows but also achieve accurate throws with a pretty touch. He is not limited in throwing to any part of the field. The key has been becoming more consistent. His completion % is up 3.5 from last year as he steadily improves.

The second question is important because the Raiders rely on their run game to help set up the pass. They are currently more dependent on the run game because of the slow start that their passing attack is suffering. 

The Broncos boast the top rushing defense in the NFL, allowing 59.7 rush yards per game. They have shut down the likes of LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliot to less than 2 yards per carry. The Broncos improved over the off-season in this regard by adding more weight to their defensive line by acquiring veteran Domata Peko and having some of their linemen gain weight. They also made schematic adjustments in order to apply more pressure in the opposing backfield without relying so much on their linemen.

The Raiders lack significant quality in their rushing attack and should struggle against Denver's much improved rush defense. After a strong season opener, Marshawn Lynch was a non-factor against the Jets and the Redskins. He hasn't had a productive season since 2014 and gives minimal reason to hope.

Oakland will be more dependent on quarterback Derek Carr. While Carr is elite, his wide receiving corps has been disappointing. Amari Cooper is dropping more passes than usual and his receptions and receiving yards are down. Michael Crabtree has played well as the number 2 receiver, but a chest injury held him out of practice on Friday and he is listed as 'questionable' for Sunday.

Whereas the Raiders' offense is so dependent on Carr, the Broncos have a more balanced offense. The acquisition of Jamaal Charles is paying off because he is healthy and displaying the explosiveness and agility of his younger years. He complements the bruising C.J. Anderson. Each one can excel as starting running back. Denver is currently 3rd in rushing yards per game.

Denver can continue to control the ground game against a weak Oakland defensive line and linebacker corps that, outside of Mack and Bruce Irvin, pose little threat.


The Verdict

Denver, with its complete offense, should control time of possession and exploit Oakland's defense on the ground and in the air. Oakland's running attack, on the contrary, has yet to get going, while their poor wide receiver play has held back their passing game.

Denver tends to start fast and fade while Oakland tends to start slow and come on strong in the end. In the first half of their first 3 games this season, Denver's scoring differential is +18 while it is 0 in the second half. In Oakland's first three games this season, their scoring differential is 0 in the first half, but +18 in the second half. Add the Broncos first half to your NFL Picks today.

Free NFL Pick: Denver 1H -2Best Line Offered: 5Dimes 

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