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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
November 9, 2005
Season Ticket
Sun 1 PM Sun 1 PM Sun 4 PM Sun 8:30 PM Mon 9 PM
BAL at JAC NE at MIA NYJ at CAR On Bye:  
HOU at IND* SF at CHI GB at ATL CIN, SD Updated *
KC at BUF WAS at TB* STL at SEA TEN. NO Times ET

Prediction: Denver 27, Oakland 20

This season seems to be fated for the Raiders to be described as the best team with a <insert standings> record. They are also only 1-3 on the road with the lone win coming in Tennessee. The Broncos rolled all over the Raiders last year in Oakland and then were shockingly upset in Denver. Chances are they will remember that loss all too well. If they don't, about 90,000 screaming fans will remind them.

Denver won 31-3 in Oakland last year but then lost to the visiting Raiders 24-25 in week 12 of 2004.

Denver Broncos (6-2)
1 10-34 @MIA 10 Nov 13 @OAK
2 20-17 SDC 11 Nov 20 NYJ
3 30-10 KCC 12 Nov 24 @DAL
4 20-7 @JAC 13 Dec 4 @KCC
5 21-19 WAS 14 Dec 11 BAL
6 28-20 NE 15 Dec 17 @BUF
7 23-24 @NYG 16 Dec 24 OAK
8 49-21 PHI 17 Dec 31 @SDC
9 Open Bye M THU SAT
DEN at OAK Rush Catch Pass
QB Jake Plummer 0 0 240,1
RB Mike Anderson 60,1 10 0
RB Tatum Bell 100,1 30 0
TE Jeb Putzier 0 10 0
WR Rod Smith 0 100,1 0
WR Ashley Lelie 0 60 0
WR Charlie Adams 0 20 0
PK Jason Elam 2 FG 3 XP -
Pregame Notes: Denver has a one game lead over the Chiefs in the AFC West and the first tie breaker so far thanks to a home win back in week three. Other than the loss in New York when the Giants mounted a comeback, these Broncos would be undefeated for the last seven games. The running game is the best in the NFL right now and Plummer is stepping up when needed to show he still can pass with the best of them.

Quarterback: Jake Plummer started cold this season but he's heated up as the season progresses. He comes off a high of 309 yards and four touchdowns against the Eagles in week eight and has scored at least one in all but one game this season. Unlike most quarterbacks, he has been far more productive in home games this year than on the road.

Plummer threw for 190 yards and three touchdowns in Oakland last year.

Running Backs: After the first four games of the year, the Denver rushing attack looked far more pedestrian than it had in years. Now four games later, it looks unstoppable once again. Difference too is that there are two big runners for the Broncos and enough production to share so that both Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell are being top backs every week. Their best joint effort was against the Eagles when both backs crested 100 yards and both scored - Bell had two touchdowns no less. Both backs are scoring and/or turning in big yardage in every game and have combined for over 160 yards and at least two scores in three of the last four games.

The Broncos used Reuben Droughns in both meetings with the Raiders last year and he scored in both games and went over 100 yards.

Wide Receivers: With all the rushing success this season, the wideouts have been much less productive than in 2004 and Rod Smith comes off a 123 yard effort against the Eagles - the only 100+ yard game from any Denver wideout this year. His big game came on the heels of two consecutive efforts of 33 yards or less. Ashley Lelie has been more consistent with yardage over the last three games remaining between 64 and 68 yards but he only has one score on the year. The better this team runs, the worse the wideouts get.

Rod Smith only had one catch in Oakland last year while Lelie caught a touchdown on only two receptions. Smith later had 99 yards and one score at home against the Raiders.

Tight Ends: Stephen Alexander scored in the last game but that the first time all year that tight ends have posted a touchdown in a game. He only had two catches for sevens yards anyway. Jeb Putzier is the primary receiving tight end but that only translates into about 20 or 30 yards a week and he has not scored this season.

Match Against the Defense: The Raiders have been giving up the run over the last month and each of those teams has scored against them. Larry Johnson (107, 2 TD), Chris Brown (97, 1 TD) and Tomlinson (140, 2 TD) have shown that committing to the run can work against the Raiders which fits nicely into the game plan of Denver. Look for solid efforts from both Bell and Anderson that should favor the speedier Bell this week.

Plummer faces a secondary that is without Charles Woodson and that means Rod Smith should have a good game here unless Denver just ends up running all afternoon. All teams throw at least one score against the Raiders and there's nothing like this match-up to provoke rolling up a score. Plummer should remain only moderate in yardage with around 240 yards but throw at least one score if not two.

Oakland Raiders (3-5)
1 20-30 @NE 10 Nov 13 DEN
2 17-23 KCC 11 Nov 20 @WAS
3 20-23 @PHI 12 Nov 27 MIA
4 19-13 DAL 13 Dec 4 @SDC
5 Open Bye 14 Dec 11 @NYJ
6 14-27 SDC 15 Dec 18 CLE
7 38-17 BUF 16 Dec 24 @DEN
8 34-25 @TEN 17 Dec 31 NYG
9 23-27 @KCC . THU SAT
OAK vs DEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Kerry Collins 0 0 260,2
RB Lamont Jordan 70 50 0
TE Courtney Anderson 0 20 0
WR Randy Moss 0 60,1 0
WR Jerry Porter 0 70 0
WR Doug Gabriel 0 40,1 0
PK S. Janikowski 2 FG 2 XP -

Pregame Notes: The Raiders must be an average team because whenever they face a below average team, they win. And when they face a good team, they lose. The Dallas game has been the lone exception to this. The running game continues to be a solid component of the offense but the losses mount because each time the Raiders face a top secondary, Collins turns in bad game. This week he faces a decent but not insurmountable foe in Denver and this could be a defining game for the Raiders. Win here and they can at least feel good about their chances of finishing over .500 this year. A loss will likely ensure a bad year since remaining games include @WAS, @SD, @NYJ and @DEN. Seems the easy part of the schedule is now concluded.

Quarterback: Kerry Collins has been his normal inconsistent self this season, throwing for anywhere between 175 and 345 yards in games and varying between three touchdowns down to no scores in two match-ups. Collins has six touchdowns over the last three games but had none in the two previous efforts. On the plus side - he has finally been forced to realize that more than Randy Moss exists and has given Porter a much needed bounce up in the passing scheme.

Collins only threw for 136 yards and no score against the visiting Broncos last year. He later had 339 yards and four scores in Denver as one of the biggest surprises of the year.

Running Backs: Lamont Jordan has been a major surprise this season but after scoring in five consecutive games, he came away from the Chiefs contest with no touchdowns. He still had 93 yards on 19 carries and added 25 more yards on five catches. He remains one of the best receiving backs in the NFL, trailing only Brian Westbrook in yardage. His best games may be behind him though with a brutal schedule coming up and only a couple of softer match-ups left for the second half of the season.

Wide Receivers: Randy Moss is playing through his rib and groin injuries but his production has taken a major nosedive since week four. While he has two touchdowns in the last four games, he only managed a total of 76 yards over that time and last week his score came on his only reception in the game. This has allowed Collins to finally recall that Jerry Porter is still playing for the Raiders and Porter has scored three times in the last two weeks. He had 123 yards against the Titans and then 68 yards last week against the Chiefs as the primary receiver while Moss recuperates on the job. Outside of those two wideouts, nothing much else matters. Doug Gabriel had a monster 101 yard effort in week seven but followed that up with no catches in week eight and only three for 37 yards against the Chiefs. Unless he is replacing Moss, Gabriel is a relative non-factor.

Porter had 135 yards and three scores against Champ Bailey last year and that will certainly be remembered this week.

Tight Ends: A 20 yard game is considered a big success for this unit that has not scored since week one.

Match Against the Defense: Jordan goes against a defense that has been outstanding against the run and only Portis (103) has topped the century mark against the Broncos (and he had added incentive). Otherwise most backs have been held to only moderate numbers if that but in Jordan's favor, Denver is much less dominating when on the road and Jordan will turn in receiving yardage anyway.

The Broncos have allowed a lot of passing yards this season but mainly because they have been so far ahead in games that the opponents have had no choice other than to throw the ball. Playing at home, there's no reason why Collins won't throw at least one score and likely two since Denver has allowed eight passing scores over the last four weeks. Unless they move Champ Bailey, he'll go against Porter and likely keep him down, especially after last year when Porter shocked the world by burning Bailey several times for long scores. Bailey will be plenty motivated this week after the embarrassment at home last year. Moss continues to play hurt and yet still manages to catch touchdowns if nothing else. Look for Moss to score once but the other touchdown could go anywhere - even Porter if he can whip up some of that magic he found in 2004.