It has been a long, strange season for the Oakland Raiders. At first they looked like an improved group with the potential to hang around all year. However, the wheels came off late and they are starring down another 4-12 campaign. They have one more shot to get their fifth win Sunday at home against the current number one seed in the AFC, the Denver Broncos.
They Raiders are looking to avoid a third straight AFC West loss to end the year. The Broncos need a win to lock up a bye and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Denver won the first match-up of the season 37-21 in week three.
Oakland will turn back to quarterback Terrelle Pryor to start the season finale. He started eight games to begin the season with a 3-5 record, before the Raiders went to undrafted rookie free agent Matt McGloin. McGloin has started the last six games with a 1-5 record. The quarterback situation has been a disaster all season and starting Pryor again only adds to the failures. If the Raiders wanted to see more of Pryor, they should not have gone away from him for the last six weeks and stunted his development. In the first game against Denver, Pryor completed 19-28 passes for 281 yards and a 73 yard touchdown to Denarius Moore. Pryor has a chance to break Rich Gannon's Raiders single season quarterback rushing record with three more yards Sunday.
With Pryor under center, the Raiders are a much more dangerous rushing team. He brings that electric element to the run game as well as misdirection and read option looks. Oakland is currently ranked eighth in the NFL averaging 129 yards per game. The Denver defense is ranked eighth at stopping the run allowing 104 yards per game. The Raiders will have both Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings available to carry the football as well as 2014 Pro Bowl selection, fullback Marcel Reece. He will need, as always, to be a more utilized part of the game plan.
The Raiders will lean on their running game because Peyton Manning destroys them. In the last meeting, he completed 32-37 passes for 374 yards, three scores and zero interceptions. In three games against the silver and black, Manning has three 300 yard passing games and seven touchdowns. Last week, he broke the single season touchdown record by tossing his 51st touchdown pass. He is also only 265 yards away from breaking Drew Brees single season passing yards record. He will be without wide receiver Wes Welker, who is dealing with a concussion, but with rely on the trio of Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, and Eric Decker to get the job done. The Raiders could be without starting cornerback Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter for the game.
The Raiders enter this game having lost five in a row and four in a row against the Broncos. Oakland head coach Dennis Allen has yet to beat a winning team in his two years with the Raiders. The season comes down to an opportunity to prevent Denver from getting the top seed in the AFC and build some momentum for 2014.
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