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Predictions & Projections
By David M. Dorey
 
The Huddle
WEEK 13
November 26, 2003
Season Ticket
Thu 12:30 Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM
GB at DET ARZ at CHI MIN at STL CLE at SEA TB at JAX
Thu 4:05 ATL at HOU NE at IND NO at WAS Mon 9 PM
MIA at DAL BUF at NYG PHI at CAR DEN at OAK TEN at NYJ
*updated CIN at PIT SF at BAL KC at SD Times EST
   
Denver vs Oakland Sun, Nov 30; 4 PM on CBS at Network Associates Coliseum
  Denver Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 20 0 230, 2
RB Clinton Portis 100,1 30 0
TE Shannon Sharpe Q Q Q
WR Rod Smith 0 80,1 0
WR Ed McCaffrey 0 40 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 60,1 0
  Oakland Rush Catch Pass
QB Rick Mirer 0 0 200,1
RB Charlie Garner 20 0 0
RB Tyrone Wheatley 50,1 10 0
TE Doug Jolley 0 20 0
WR Tim Brown 0 40 0
WR Jerry Porter 0 70,1 0
WR Jerry Rice 0 50 0

Game Prediction: DEN 24, OAK 20

Back in week three the Broncos pummeled the Raiders 31-10 in a game not remotely that close really. Denver led 21-0 in the first quarter. This time around the Raiders are still losing games, but playing much tougher and running better. But the Broncos come off a painful loss and will look to get back to form against a hated rival.

If the records are thrown out, then anything happens here. This is as close to a Superbowl as the Raiders are going to find this season. Then again, they lost the actual Superbowl last year with healthy players.

Denver Notes

Denver comes off an embarrassing loss to the Bears and falls to 6-5. It appeared that the Broncos opted to use week 12 for their trash game and possibly they were caught looking ahead to this game.

Quarterbacks:: Jake Plummer was out of sorts last week, getting sacked or hurried and in the event he was able to get a pass away, the receivers dropped them constantly. This week will be a good test. He comes off a terrible showing at home against a bad opponent and now heads to Oakland where anything can happen. Recall that in their first meeting in week three, Plummer had thrown two scores and ran in another before the first quarter ended.

Running Backs: Clinton Portis had runs of 49 and 50 yards last week and still the Broncos lost because they could never turn them into more than one field goal. Portis ended with 165 yards rushing and suffered a heel bruise. Since he played with it Sunday, he should be able to go this week.

Quentin Griffin had five runs last week for 26 yards and shows Portis quality speed though without the power.

Receivers: Outside of Rod Smith (9-86, 1 TD), the wideouts were invisible last week unless you like film clips of dropped passes. Ashley Lelie only managed to hold on to one of his five passes and needs to improve the connection with Plummer since he only had three catches for 59 yards in the two games Jake has played lately. The last time the Broncos faced the Raiders, Lelie scored on a 44 yard pass and had 108 yards in that game.

Shannon Sharpe has rib cartilage separation and is a question mark for Sunday. Coaches and Sharpe said there is a chance he'll play, but a lot will depend on the pain he can withstand. I am assuming that he is out though that could change by Friday. Dwayne Carswell would take the start if Sharpe cannot play.

Match against the Defense: The last time these two teams played was in week three and the Broncos absolutely throttled the Raiders on Monday Night Football.

In their last two homestands, the Raiders have allowed huge passing games to Culpepper and Pennington so Plummer should be able to get back on track here. Even without Sharpe, Smith and Lelie and know even McCaffrey should have better games.

Clinton Portis should have a big game by the numbers if his heel does not bother him too much since the Raiders have been gashed by the run the entire season. This is a monster offensive game if it plays out as history suggest but realize too that the Raiders-Broncos game rarely follow any script and the Raiders are learning to play within what they can do this season.

Oakland Notes

Oakland falls to 3-8 with the loss to the Chiefs.

Quarterbacks:: Rick Mirer may not be destined for the Pro Bowl, but he has gradually improved and last week had 19 of 31 for 219 yards with no interceptions against the Chiefs. He had both a rushing and passing touchdown. He may get no better, but right now he is acceptable if he gets no worse.

Running Backs: Tyrone Wheatley scored last week and had 77 yards on 19 carries. Charlie Garner did not start, but was well enough to play on a limited basis. He had nine carries for 36 yards and while he will increase that as he continues to heal from his back injury, HC Bill Callahan is now all about power football. Wheatley will continue to take the biggest share of carries.

The last time these teams played, Wheatley and Garner combined for only 25 yards on nine carries.

Receivers: The Raiders plan the last few weeks is to constantly run the first half and then go to more balance in the second half when defenses are tired of tackling Wheatley. Jerry Porter had 89 yards on seven catches and Jerry Rice scored once while gaining 51 yards on two catches - both in the second half.

Match against the Defense: This game will not likely follow the same path as week three because this is largely a different offense than it was then. The Raiders will look to run the ball and Denver brings a far better rush defense than the last three opponents - NYJ, MIN and KC. The only runners of any positive measure against the Broncos have been Holmes, Tomlinson and Lewis and only Lewis exceeded 100 yards.

Denver will load up against the run and Wheatley and Garner will suffer for it.

Denver can, and has, been beaten by the pass but that can only happen if the running game forces the secondary up. It is still too early to rely on what Mirer will do since he has not yet faced even an average defense.

Team Comparisons - Current team rankings (1-32) for FF points scored or allowed by position
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
DEN Scores
11
15
29
2
10
22
OAK Allows
22
31
3
18
26
9
DEN AP
11
16
-26
16
16
-13
Rank (1-32)
QB
RB
WR
TE
PK
DEF
OAK Scores
23
11
20
13
17
19
DEN Allows
7
2
5
20
20
16
OAK AP
-16
-9
-15
7
3
-3
Offensive ranks = #1 gains most points, Defensive ranks = #1 allows least points
AP = Advantage Points, the net difference between a positional rank gained or allowed by the teams.
DEN
OAK
2003 Game Averages
OAK
DEN
Gains
Allows
QB's
Gains
Allows
200
211
Pass yards
217
178
1.4
1.0
Pass TDs
0.7
1.2
1.1
0.9
Interceptions
1.0
1.7
16
18
Rush yards
9
7
0.1
0.3
Rush TDs
0.1
0.1
---
---
RB's
---
---
117
131
Rush yards
106
80
0.4
1.1
Rush TDs
1.1
0.4
35
60
Receive yards
32
35
0.2
0.2
Receive TD's
0.0
0.1
---
---
WR's
---
---
108
121
Receive yards
148
111
0.4
0.4
Receive TD's
0.4
0.8
---
---
TE's
---
---
57
31
Receive yards
37
33
0.8
0.3
Receive TD's
0.2
0.3
---
---
PK's
---
---
1.8
1.8
Field Goals
1.4
1.8
2.2
2.6
Extra Points
2.1
2.0
---
---
DEF/ST
---
---
0.3
0.7
Fumbles
0.8
0.6
0.6
1.1
Interceptions
0.9
1.1
0.2
0.0
Touchdowns
0.2
0.2
2.3
2.2
Sacks
1.3
1.9
0.1
0.0
Safeties
0.0
0.0
Broncos (6-5)
Score Opp.
30-10 @CIN
37-13 @SD
31-10 OAK
20-16 DET
23-24 @KC
17-14 PIT
20-28 @MIN
6-26 @BAL
26-30 NE
Week 10 BYE
37-8 SD
10-19 CHI
Week 13 @OAK
Week 14 KC
Week 15 CLE
Week 16 @IND
Week 17 @GB
Raiders (3-8)
Score Opp.
20-25 @TEN
23-20 CIN
10-31 @DEN
34-31 SD
21-24 @CHI
7-13 @CLE
10-17 KC
Week 8 BYE
13-23 @DET
24-27 NYJ
28-18 MIN
24-27 @KC
Week 13 DEN
Week 14 @PIT
Week 15 BAL
Week 16 GB
Week 17 @SD

* Fantasy point rankings calculated using standard Huddle fantasy points