ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Maybe it's the bright lights. Maybe it's the national television audience. Maybe it's the unmistakable theme music. Maybe it's the years of storied tradition, thrilling finishes and legendary performances.
Whatever it is, there's something about Monday Night Football that makes for a distinctly special experience – for both fans and players.
"As a kid, that's what you dream of," wide receiver Wes Welker said. "No matter how many times you play on Monday night, it never gets old."
Not even for Peyton Manning, who has certainly played in his fair share of Monday night games over the course of his career.
"It's a great history to it, it's a great tradition. I know the players are excited," Manning said. "Whether you're in your 16th year or your rookie year, it's an exciting opportunity in the NFL. You're playing a division opponent at home, it's the only game being played, it's still a big deal when other players around the NFL are watching that game."
For Manning, it's the recipe for a special football atmosphere.
"I know both teams will be pumped and I know our crowd will be rocking," he said.
Throw in the Monday night history between the Broncos and the Raiders, and the excitement only grows.
The two teams have met more times on Monday Night Football – this will be the 17th encounter – than any other pairing of NFL teams.
Whether it's Jason Elam's game-winning field goal in a 27-24 victory on a snowy November 2000 evening in the final Monday night game in Mile High Stadium history, John Elway's last-minute touchdown pass to Rod Smith leading to a 22-21 win in 1996, or the 23-23 tie the two teams played to in their first-ever Monday night meeting in 1973, the Broncos and Raiders have no shortage of Monday night mementos.
And, as cornerback Chris Harris noted, the teams are excited to write the latest chapter in their Monday night rivalry.
"Monday night versus the Raiders, that's a huge game for us—a division game," Harris said. "Any time it's a division game it's a big game for us. We know we have to bring our 'A' game."
Safety Duke Ihenacho compared the atmosphere to the one the Broncos experienced in their season opener against the Ravens.
"It's kind of like the Thursday night game," Ihenacho said. "That was primetime, that was the first game of the season. It's exciting."
For Ihenacho, the opponent and the national television exposure is unique for personal reasons.
"I went to school at San Jose State, so a lot of people will probably be watching the game from the Bay Area, a lot of my friends," he added. "It's definitely exciting to be on Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders, a divisional matchup at home."
Still, the final intention is hardly lost amidst the Monday night fanfare – as running back Knowshon Moreno pointed out.
"It's a division rival. It's a division game," Moreno said. "Pretty much, it's getting back to keys and playing another game. It doesn't matter if it's on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday. It's just another game."