Broncos ready to feast on struggling Raiders
The Denver Broncos unleashed a balanced offensive attack in their 27-24 season-opening victory over the Seattle Seahawks and hope for more of the same when they host the rival Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Denver, though, was far from perfect as quarterback Case Keenum threw three interceptions in his Broncos debut but completed 25-of-39 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns.
"We're going to run our offense," Keenum said. "No matter what's happened, we're still going to run our offense. We're going to be in attack mode."
Denver coach Vance Joseph was happy his team came away with a victory but was far from satisfied.
"It's good to win, but we do have standards, and our standards can't be measured by who we play. It's got to be by how we play," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "So, I told (the players), 'Hey, I'm excited about the win, but we can play better'."
Denver wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders caught 10 passes versus Seattle. Last season, Sanders didn't hit double-digits in receptions until Week 3. Sanders looks primed for a renaissance season after struggling with injuries last year. The good timing Sanders displayed with Keenum during practice and the preseason translated to the regular-season opener, in which he finished with 135 receiving yards and a 43-yard touchdown.
The Broncos also rushed for 146 yards with rookies Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman each totalling 71. Lindsay, a Denver native and former University of Colorado star, added a 29-yard receiving touchdown.
Rookie linebacker Bradley Chubb played more snaps (95 percent) than any other Broncos front-seven player, finishing with a half-sack in his regular-season debut. If the Broncos return to the playoffs this season, their youngest players are likely to help point them there.
"Even though they're young players, they're good football players," Joseph said. "They're very, very mature and smart football players. They've earned their way to play, so it's not about holding their hand or making it easy for those guys. "They are NFL players, they're ready to play and they've proven that from training camp to preseason and now to last week."
While some of the rookies raised eyebrows, so did veteran linebacker Von Miller, who comes off a three-sack, two-forced fumble, one-fumble recovery performance.
After being thoroughly outmanned and outplayed in the Monday night season opener by the Los Angeles Rams 33-13, Oakland heads to Denver with a lot to prove.
The chief concern is the play of quarterback Derek Carr. He looked unsettled in the pocket after getting sacked by Michael Brockers in the second half and continued to loft too many lazy passes instead of stepping into the pass and throwing with conviction.
Carr, who completed 20 of his first 23 passes but finished 29 for 40 with 303 yards and three interceptions, was asked about the effects of getting hit.
"I don't think about it until after I'm laying on the ground and making sure everything is all right," he said. "I've been there too many times. You don't think about it in the game because you're flooded with decisions, coverage, fronts and pressures."
Now Carr faces a Broncos' defense that recorded six sacks versus Seattle.
"Well, they have all kinds of pressure," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of the Broncos. "They have all the blitzes that you can draw up. They have that type of pressure that you have to deal with. They'll put three or four of those defensive ends out there together.
"They have Shane Ray, Shaquil Barrett. (Bradley) Chubb is a top-five pick, so they can apply pressure inside or outside. With their four-man rush, they can also get home with an array of blitzes. They have a talented secondary. (Bradley) Roby and Adam Jones now to go with Chris Harris makes this a real challenge in the noise."
Oakland has lost five straight dating to Week 14 of the 2017 season and hasn't scored more than 17 points during that span. The Raiders hope for more production from Jordy Nelson, who caught three passes for 23 yards in his club debut.
Oakland leads the series 62-51-2 after the teams split the last three season series.
Updated September 13, 2018