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Three Keys to Broncos-Raiders


Take a photographic trip through the series history between the Broncos and the Raiders.


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --It's Raiders Week. It's also a week after the Broncos' first loss of the 2017 season. The Broncos are on an urgent edge, and that can be a healthy thing.

"We had a great week of practice. A great week," cornerback Aqib Talib said. "A great walk-through [Friday]. You see a lot of guys leaving the building late. You can feel the urgency in this building."

That was exactly what Head Coach Vance Joseph wanted to see -- players who were "more focused and detailed in their jobs." But at the same time, Joseph didn't want his team to dwell on last Sunday's defeat.

"My philosophy on that is: When you have adversity, you just have to get back to work and not overact, not ruin the week," he said. "The Bills can't beat us twice. That's my mindset this week. We're moving on. Let's go play.

"We had a great week of work this week and it's a big game on Sunday."

A "must-win" game? Yes, but that makes it no different than the others.

"They're all must-wins," Joseph said. "Obviously, being at home and it being a divisional game, you would think you would up your details and focus. Every game we play is a must-win game. Last week was. It doesn't affect our mindset each week. It's the same."

The mindset is the same, but each game is different. So what are the keys to Sunday's contest?

1. Make the Raiders one-dimensional

Oakland's offense was effective in its first two games when it was able to achieve balance that kept the Titans and Jets off-balance. In those two games, Raiders running backs Marshawn Lynch and Jalen Richard combined to average 100.5 rushing yards per game and 4.90 yards per attempt.

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are capable of dicing up defenses, but Broncos cornerbacks Chris Harris Jr. and Talib have held Cooper and Crabtree to an average of 54 yards per game in the three games the cornerback duo has played against those two wide receivers.


  1. Win the turnover battle**

Two giveaways in each of the Broncos' first two regular-season games did not cost them victories. Against the Bills, it was a different matter. Furthermore, five of the Broncos' six turnovers have set their opponents up in Denver territory; four of those five drives ended in touchdowns that represent more than half of the touchdowns allowed by Denver's defense this year. If the Broncos can eliminate giveaways and force the Raiders to work with long fields, the defense should be able to capitalize.

And if the Broncos can force the Raiders into giveaways, they'll have them where they want them. The Raiders are 0-8 when Carr throws at least two interceptions, and 24-16 when he does not. Since 2014, the Raiders are 2-18 when they have a negative turnover margin, compared with 22-9 when the margin is even or better.

3. Contain Khalil Mack

It's quite simple: The Broncos have faced Mack six times. He's had seven sacks against them. Denver is 4-0 against the Raiders when Mack fails to record a sack and 0-2 when Mack gets into the sack column. When he's posted sacks at the Broncos' expense they've come in bunches -- five in a Dec. 13, 2015 game and two on Nov. 6, 2016.

Can Brandon Marshall slow down Marshawn Lynch in the box, or will Lynch run free? The answer could decide Sunday's matchup against the Raiders.

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