LOOKING FOR A WIN
The Raiders are off to their worst start since 1962. While the team has gotten close to achieving that first "W," the Raiders continue to struggle and face one of the toughest schedules in the NFL.
"We're all disappointed with 0-8," Charles Woodson said. "There's no question about that. But guys are coming in every day with an upbeat attitude, ready to go to work. So we're not allowing our record to dictate how we come in and approach the game."
He said for a franchise to get back on track, it needs a "signature moment" or a "signature game." He noted that once a team gets that validation that the work it has put in is worth it, the wins will come.
Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano said leaving the past behind is simple for the Raiders because he stepped into his current role so early in the season. He replaced former coach Dennis Allen after the Raiders' 38-14 Week 4 loss to the Dolphins in London.
Montee Ball was back in pads at practice on Wednesday for the first time since injuring his groin one month ago. Check out photos of him and the Broncos preparing for Sunday's game.
Woodson said the team is responding to Sparano's coaching style and the interim coach is working to "start with a clean slate."
"I think it's more difficult if a coaching change is made in the 12th week of the season, obviously you're not going to be moving on," Sparano said. "But all that being said, there was a lot of damage as far as losses go in the first four weeks of the season and that hasn't gotten any better right now. So we're where we are, we put ourselves here and we're getting better in a lot of areas right now as a football team, I mean a ton of areas right now. Those are facts. But we just haven't been able to win a couple of these close games that we've been in against good teams."
While the Raiders are still looking to lose their "winless" label, their only blowout loss was to the Dolphins. They've lost to the Patriots by seven, the Chargers by three and the Seahawks by six – with the two non-divisional games on the road.
AN EVER-CHANGING RIVALRY
The Broncos have won their last five regular season matchups with the Raiders by a margin of 172-78. The Raiders had won the previous four matchups. But the past few years, the rivalry has become one-sided, with the Broncos consistently defeating the Raiders both at home and on the road.
Woodson hopes the rivalry will be reignited.
"Right now, it's been pretty lopsided, as far as games are concerned," Woodson said. "We have to get back to that level of competition—what the Raiders and Broncos used to be. We'll fight hard to do that and try hard to establish that. It will start again this week."
Sparano said division games are always rival games and this game will be key for Oakland as they have only played one thus far.
"This is a big divisional football game for us and a chance for us to get measured within our division against an outstanding football team, the best team in the league right now. We understand the challenge that is ahead of us right now but nonetheless we are looking forward to the opportunity," Sparano said.
He said both teams have changed significantly over the years.
"Right now, progressively we are getting better and better and better and closer and closer and closer against good teams," he said. "From our end that is something we have to do as far as getting back to Raider football of the past or any of those things. Quite honestly our game has changed a lot—when you're looking at it the game has changed a great deal. The Denver Broncos now are not the Denver Broncos they were before."
WOODSON ON CHAMP
In light of former Bronco cornerback Champ Bailey's retirement last week, Woodson had some kind words to say about the future Hall of Famer.
"Champ was one of the greatest corners to play the back," Woodson said. "He had a stellar career. You know what? Congratulations to him for all that he was able to accomplish because he was one of the good corners in this game."
Woodson was in the 1998 draft class, entering the NFL one year before Bailey. The two played each other four times in their careers. Bailey finished his career with 52 interceptions, 174 passes defensed and 812 tackles. Woodson currently holds 58 interceptions, 144 passes defensed and 876 tackles.
SPARANO ON MANNING
Sparano recalls a game against Manning that he likely wants to forget. During the 2009 season, Sparano's Dolphins faced the Colts on Monday Night Football. The Dolphins possessed the ball for 45:07 of the game.
Manning threw touchdown passes of 80 yards to Dallas Clark and 48 yards to Pierre Garcon in the matchup and the Dolphins ran the ball 49 times for 239 yards. But Manning led the Colts in a comeback and they defeated the Colts, 27-23.
"We made the critical error of leaving Peyton about a minute and eight seconds," Sparano said.
"He's a great quarterback, probably the best our league is going to see. You have to make sure that you limit his opportunities when he's out there, which is easier said than done," he said.