In the opening week on Monday Night Football, the last prime time game Oakland hosted, the Raiders were snakebit by an injury to their long snapper Jon Condo. Eventually Oakland lost to San Diego 22-14.
When Oakland played @ Denver earlier in the year, Peyton Manning torched the rag tag secondary of the Raiders for 338 yards and 3 TDs, all while going for a very efficient 30/38. The Raiders lost 37-6. The last time Peyton played in Oaktown was in December of 2010 for the Colts. The Colts won comfortably 31-26 with Manning taking a pseudo-kneel down on Oakland's 1 yard line following a naked bootleg to seal the deal.
Short weeks don't favor defenses, and with the Broncos firing on all cylinders right now, compared to earlier in the year when they were still gelling, expect a royal ass kicking from the Denver offense on the Raiders tonight. Sitting at 9-3, and already clinching the AFC West, the Broncos are now playing for playoff position. The race is hot for playoff home games and 1st Round byes with the likes of the Patriots and Ravens sitting at 9-3 as well. Houston, barring some sort of late season meltdown, should secure the top position in the AFC. The Texans are currently atop the entire AFC at 11-1.
Oakland is pretty banged up, they suffered numerous concussions in their already thin secondary, last week vs. the Browns. It will be interesting to see how Jason Tarver and the rest of the Oakland staff try to attack Peyton. They may just keep everything in front of them...allowing numerous underneath looks, which Manning will gobble up all game long. The key for Oakland is containing the big play ability of Demaryius Thomas. If Thomas has a huge day, with some big plays, the Raiders will be forced to play catchup most of the night.
The biggest disappointment this season has been the offense for Oakland. A total regression while essentially retaining most of their 2011 personnel. There aren't a whole lot of fans in Oakland right now who are happy with Greg Knapp. He makes a lot of excuses for the repetitive failures every week. His play calling is suspect at best, and his ability to make adjustments at halftime is sometimes laughable. Denarius Moore has been a bad surprise this season. One can understand being a little behind the curve after he missed most of camp with a hamstring injury, but his drops over the past month are completely inexcusable. Dennis Allen benched Moore vs. Cleveland last week in the 2nd half, after D. Moore's 3rd drop during the game.
Oakland has to come out running the ball and getting after their blocks. The Raiders ran the ball successfully against Cleveland..but, for some reason (Knapp strikes again...) the run was all but eliminated from the play calling in the 2nd half.
Marcel Reece and former Stanford RB Jeremy Stewart have looked very strong in the past two weeks. Which makes it difficult to see DMC return tonight. McFadden will no doubt get a good load of carries, but Reece and Stewart are more natural runners in the Zone Blocking Scheme. If Knapp has any sense, he'll ease McFadden into the lineup, set him up with some screens and get #20 outside the tackle box in space.
Carson Palmer can not turn the ball over even once tonight if Oakland is going to have a chance, the old gunslinger has had some bad throws lately, but he is a prime time player on Thursday Night. Last season @ San Diego, Palmer torched the Chargers for huge plays all night long, going 14/20 for 299 yards and a couple TDs.