The Raiders travel to Denver to face the Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for the Silver and Black's final game of the 2014 season.
After winning three-straight match-ups at home, the Raiders are looking for their first road win of the season.
The Denver Broncos lost to the Cincinnati Bengals in a Week 16 Monday Night showdown and are playing for a first-round playoff bye in Week 17.
Game action photos from the Raiders 41-17 loss to the Broncos in Week 10 action.
The Raiders have spoiled the playoff picture for more than one team this season. They ended the playoff push for the Buffalo Bills last week and made the road to the playoffs bleak for the San Francisco 49ers in Week 14. They wouldn't mind being successful one more time.
Winning three out of the past five weeks, it's clear that the men in Silver and Black have not given up and are committed to finishing the season strong. "The season isn't over yet. We have one more to play and that's where our focus is," said veteran DE Justin Tuck. "We still have one left and that's where our mind is. Denver is a great football team that's obviously going to get to play in the playoffs and have a great shot at the thing and we just want to go out there and make life a little difficult, at least one more week, for them."
They will have to find the answer to winning on the road. "One of the things we haven't done on the road is we haven't got off to a fast start," said Interim Head Coach Tony Sparano. "I think we've got to get off to a fast start in somebody else's place. We can't let them get off to a fast start. We've always kind of found ourselves in a situation – not always, but in several situations, we've found ourselves in a situation where we're trying to fight from behind. You're feeding their ego a little bit. I've used that phrase before, but what I mean by that is you get into one of these deals where you're trying to throw it and get back in and it's loud and you've got pass rushers. It's important for us to get off to a fast start on offense, on defense and in the special teams game – put a little pressure on those people in their place."
The biggest challenge is QB Peyton Manning, who has thrown for 4,454 yards, 39 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. "He's smart. He's a smart player," said LB Khalil Mack. "He does a lot early on to control the tempo of the game, so we're going to try to throw it off this week."
Mack is looking to tally a sack against the veteran quarterback, something he wasn't able to do in Week 10. "Man, I was supposed to try to get him last game, so this one I'm looking forward to it, hopefully," said the defensive rookie of the year candidate.
Manning is aided by two wide receivers – Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders – each with over 1,000 yards and a combined 20 touchdowns. "I think every week we've gone against a pretty explosive receiver," said CB Keith McGill. "Obviously, this week going against Peyton Manning, it just adds a quarterback element in that picture, so whenever you're going to play against him I think you're going to raise your game up, so with him and the receivers around him, I think we're going to be ready for it."
Broncos RB C.J. Anderson has been a bright spot in Denver, providing the Broncos offense with a multi-dimensional attack. Anderson has rushed for 762 yards and five touchdowns. "I think the biggest thing for us is not really worrying about Peyton, but to worry about what our collective problems are," said Tuck. "I'm worried about that right tackle and that running game, things of that nature. Once you take the run away, then you can start worrying about Peyton. I think they're a football team that has in some ways hidden the fact that they want to run the ball more. I think a lot of teams have gone into games thinking that, oh it's Peyton, it's Peyton, it's Peyton, but this running game that they're throwing at you now has really benefitted them down the stretch. That's what I'm thinking about first."
The Broncos coaching staff is aware of the Raiders defensive productivity the last several weeks. "I think that's a big strength of their defense, is their front," said Broncos Head Coach John Fox. "They are big, physical. You have a young guy in Khalil Mack, who is one of the better talents in the league on one end. And Justin Tuck, who has done a lot. You have good presence and good [players] inside."
The Raiders offense has also been more efficient in the last several games, particularly last week against a highly-ranked Buffalo Bills defense. "I just think we're playing better football," said T Donald Penn. "We're still working as hard as we've been working all year. It just seems like stuff is starting to fall in place and starting to go our way a little bit better the past couple of weeks, and we have some momentum going, so hopefully we can use that going against a good Denver team that's coming off a loss. You know they're going to give us their best shot, so we keep that momentum going and take it into this offseason, that'll be good, and a big key going into next year."
Part of Oakland's success has stemmed from their ability to get the run game going. "[Latavius Murray] got good production," said Coach Fox. "He looks like he has good size. It's a good one-two punch with he and [Darren] McFadden, [Maurice Jones-Drew] in there. You have a group that brings a lot of different looks to you. I think Oakland is committed to running the ball."
G Gabe Jackson attributes the offense's improvement to his head coach. "Coach Sparano is a great coach. He's always tough on us and demands for us to do the right thing," said Jackson. "I think that and the offensive line just not wanting to put all the pressure on the quarterback to have to pass the ball so much. We just want to take it on ourselves and put it on our backs and get the run started."
Jackson and his linemates will have to take on Von Miller (13 sacks) and DeMarcus Ware (10 sacks). In the two teams' last match-up, however, the Raiders offensive line kept QB Derek Carr clean and limited the Broncos to three quarterback hurries.
The Raiders want to finish the season off with a victory and head into the offseason on a positive note. "You know [the Broncos are] going to give us their best shot, so we keep that momentum going and take it into this offseason, that'll be good, and a big key going into next year."
The final game of the 2014 season will begin at 1:25 p.m. PT in Denver. Watch the game on CBS, listen on 95.7 The GAME, and follow along on Raiders.com, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.