It's the time of year when we gather around the dinner table with our families, and reflect on what we're thankful for; and for the Oakland Raiders, there's still plenty to be thankful for.
The Silver and Black not only have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year on their team in Khalil Mack, but also have 12 Pro Bowlers on the roster, one of them being quarterback Derek Carr, who has established himself as the Raiders' franchise quarterback. For the Denver Broncos, there's not as much to be thankful for, as President of Football Operations/General Manager John Elway, and Head Coach Vance Joseph are struggling to find the team's franchise quarterback, and currently sit at the bottom of the AFC West.
This Sunday, the Raiders will host the 3-7 Broncos at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and try to keep them at the bottom of the division.
Prior to this weekend's battle between rivals, let's break down three matchups to watch, presented by Madden 18.
Raiders Wide Receivers vs. Broncos Secondary
While the scrap between Raiders wide out Michael Crabtree, and Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib, from a season ago gains a majority of the media attention when these two teams collide, the matchup between the Raiders wide receivers and Broncos secondary as a whole is a noteworthy duel. There's no denying the team's receiving corps haven't been able to produce at the level we know they're capable of, but neither have the Broncos. In the last three games, the Broncos have given up 691 passing yards, and as a defensive unit, they've allowed 112 points over those three games. Getting Carr's arm going early, and establishing a presence through the air, will be essential if the Raiders want to come away with a home win in Week 12.
**Raiders Offensive Line vs. Broncos Outside Linebacker Von Miller
As always, this will be a defining matchup throughout the game, as one of the most physical front lines in football tries to fend off one of the NFL's most prolific pass rushers. Through 12 weeks, Miller is tied for the eighth in total sacks with eight, and can wreak havoc on the quarterback at a moment's notice. According to Pro Football Focus, Miller is the highest graded pass rusher with an overall rating of 92.9; for those wondering, Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack is seventh with a grade of 90.3. The Raiders offensive line has given up 15 sacks this year, tied for fifth-best, and will surely need to stop the former Defensive Player of the Year if they have any intention of keeping that number from growing.
Raiders Pass Rush vs. Broncos Quarterback Paxton Lynch
The Broncos brass has decided that Brock Osweiler's tenure as the starting quarterback has come to a close – at least for the time being – and second-year signal-caller Paxton Lynch will be the third player to get his shot at the position this year. After benching Trevor Siemian for Osweiler, it became clear the Broncos coaching staff wasn't confident in who was running their offense, especially after firing former Offensive Coordinator Mike McCoy earlier this week. Now, this won't be Lynch's first start under center, but it will be his first of 2017. Due to his inexperience, the former University of Memphis Tiger will most likely experience some bumps and bruises, but it'll be on the Raiders defensive line to make his time in the pocket as uncomfortable as possible.