It's the Happy Holidays edition of The Wheel Route, with things creating buzz around the Raiders this week, Four Downs and One for the Road!
THE NUMBERS GAME:
Here are 10 milestones and stats to watch this Sunday for the Broncos and Raiders:
- Raiders WR Rod Streater needs 152 yards to become Oakland's first 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005.
- Terrelle Pryor (527 rush yards), needs three yards to break Rich Gannon's record (529 yards in 2000), for most rushing yards in a season by a Raiders quarterback.
- The Broncos need 18 points to break the NFL record for most points in a season, set by the 2007 Patriots.
- Peyton Manning needs 266 yards passing to set the all-time NFL record for most passing yards in a season.
- Denver needs a win to secure home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
- Terrrelle Pryor was 19 for 28 for 281 with a touchdown and his second highest quarterback rating of the season, 112.4, in the first meeting of the season vs the Broncos.
- Denarius Moore had six receptions for a season high 124 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown when the two team met earlier this season in Denver.
- Andre Holmes is hot with 19 receptions for 328 yards and a touchdown in his past four games.
- The Raiders are third in the AFC with 129.1 rush yards per game.
- Lamarr Houston has a sack in two consecutive games versus the Broncos.
THE 2014 SCHEDULE:
As the Raiders season closes this Sunday at home versus the Broncos, here are the details on who the Silver and Black play in 2014.
Home: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Dolphins (London), 49ers, Cardinals, Bills, Texans.
Away: Broncos, Chargers, Chiefs, Rams, Seahawks, Patriots, Jets, Browns.
- As always the Raiders will play home and home games with the Broncos, Chargers and Chiefs, (six games).
- The Raiders will play in London vs the Dolphins as the assigned home team September 28. The NFL likely will have the Raiders play on the east coast for a shorter trip the week before (at Jets or Patriots), and give Oakland a bye the following week.
- The Raiders play teams from the AFC East and NFC West next season. Home vs the 49ers, Cardinals, Bills and Dolphins (London). Road vs the Rams, Seahawks, Patriots and Jets.
- Because the Raiders are assured of a fourth place finish in the AFC West in 2013, on rotation they will play the fourth place teams from the AFC South (Texans - home), and AFC North (Browns - road), in 2014.
- The actual dates and times will be released in the spring.
Four keys to beating the Broncos on Sunday:
- Slow down Peyton Manning, duh. As I mentioned above, Manning is on the verge of having the best statistical season in the history of the NFL from the quarterback position. During the Raiders five-game losing streak opposing quarterbacks have 10 touchdowns passes against two interceptions and an overall rating of 112.0. In 12 wins this season Manning has a quarterback rating of 119.3 with 44 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In three losses he has a 87.6 rating, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. Manning was 32 of 37 for 374 yards with three touchdown passes in the first meeting in Denver this season between the two teams. He can't be stopped, he can be slowed somewhat. The key is consistent pressure in his face through the middle. When there is no pressure on Manning he has thrown 46 of his 51 touchdown passes with a rating of 120.3. When pressured, the future Hall of Famer has just five touchdowns, three interceptions and a mortal 84.4 rating. The problem is he doesn't hold the ball very long to allow the defense to heat him up. Manning gets the ball out in 2.34 seconds according to Pro Football Focus, the quickest to rip it in the NFL. He's dropped back 648 times this season and has only been sacked 16 times. If you make him hold it longer than 2.5 seconds, he can be dropped. He's never been sacked this season when he releases the ball in 2.5 seconds or less.
- Sloppy football. Turnovers and penalties have doomed the Raiders during their five-game losing streak. Oakland has thrown eight interceptions and lost five fumbles during this span and overall are -8 in turnover plus-minus during the skid. The Raiders also have 315 penalty yards over the five games, at an average of eight miscues per game. These are correctable mistakes which give points to the opponent. Oakland has given up 119 points off turnovers this season, second worst in the NFL to the Giants 125. The Raiders cannot beat themselves if they hope to stay in the game against the team with the best record in the AFC.
- Run it. When Terrelle Pryor starts a game, as he will this Sunday, the Raiders have 1,185 yards rushing as a team this season. That number is good for over 148 yards per game and an average of 5.0 yards per carry. When the Raiders win they average 173 rushing yards per game at 5.9 yards per shot. In losses, Oakland gets 118.4 yards on the ground at 4.3 per carry. The running game is two-fold, not only grinding yards and moving the ball, but the high powered Broncos offense is not on the field and the clock is running. The Raiders need to shorten the game and an effective running game is the key.
- Big plays and YAC. In the last home game vs the Kansas City Chiefs, running back Jamaal Charles turned short passes into big gains and long touchdowns. Of his 195 receiving yards, 104 came via the screen pass or yards after the catch. Peyton Manning leads the NFL in YAC yards passing. 2,529 of his 5,211 yards come after the catch. Broncos wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is second in the league in YAC with 633 of his 1,317 yards after the ball is in his hands. Watch out for Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno and the screen. 418 of his 507 receiving yards are YAC, which means they watched the tape and will test the Raiders on the screen pass. Oakland allows 142.9 YAC per game, 28th in the NFL. Much of the issue can be traced to poor tackling. The Raiders have missed the most tackles in the league over their five game skid.
ONE FOR THE ROAD:
Former Pro Bowl Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha retired in Silver and Black. Asomugha earned three Pro Bowl selections in eight seasons in Oakland and was a first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2010. He was a first round pick of the team in 2003.