As originally posted here
Time: 4:05 ET, Nov. 6
Location: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, Oakland, CA
Weather: High – 63 F/Low – 48 F with 30% chance of rain.
The last time the Denver Broncos (2-5, 1-2 away) and the Oakland Raiders (4-3, 2-2 home) played each other, they both had different quarterbacks. Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton threw for 304 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell threw for 105 yards, a touchdown and ran himself in for touchdown on their way to a 23-20 victory.
Now with Jason Campbell’s potential season-ending injury, the Raiders turned the reigns over to ex-Cincinnati Bengal Carson Palmer who didn’t look to ready matching backup Kyle Boller’s three interceptions in his relief against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Meanwhile Kyle Orton was benched in favor of UF sensation Tim Tebow, who in the span of a few weeks went from potential savior of the franchise after his comeback against the Dolphins to Internet meme sensation (see:Tebowing), to worst quarterback in the league after their drubbing against the Detroit Lions, 45-10. Suffice it to say, the man’s been through a lot in his short NFL career.
While the Broncos are still trying to salvage the year and the Raiders fighting off mediocrity in a soft AFC West, here are the 3 things to watch for:
Which QB is ready to play?
Carson Palmer may have gotten his wish when the Bengals traded him to the Raiders for a king’s ransom of draft picks, but he looked far from ready to play in the shutout against the Chiefs, 28-0. Palmer will have one familiar face in fellow Bengal expatriate, receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, which the raiders signed on Tuesday. They spent six seasons together. It’s easy to see how they were reunited as Raiders head coach Hue Jackson spent time in Cincinnati as the Bengal’s receivers coach from 2004-2006. A bye week might get Palmer more acclimated to the offense perhaps back to a competent NFL starter form.
As controversial as Tebow has become, Broncos head coach John Fox is giving him another chance. For his career, Tebow threw for 1066 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. The tailor-made offense of Tebow appeared to still be a work in progress with his inaccurate throws and poor game management, holding the ball too long at times. In his two starts this season, Tebow has thrown for 333 yards, completed 47 percent of his passes and sacked 13 times.
Whose backfield will emerge.
Broncos running back Willis McGahee leads the team with 460 yards on 103 carries, sat out last week’s game against the Chiefs after injuring his right hand against the Miami Dolphins. The second leading rusher is Tebow with 159 yards followed by running back Knowshon Moreno, who’s been plagued with hamstring problems, with 123 yards in 31 carries. McGahee practiced on Thursday and should be ready to go. Tebow should be able to rely on McGahee to fend off the aggressive Raider blitz. If not, Tebow’s in a world of hurt.
With running back Darren McFadden out, the Raiders will have to rely on backup Michael Bush to carry the load. In McFadden’s relief, Bush ran for 237 yards on 60 carries and three touchdowns. If Palmer’s going to get back to form, he’ll have to rely on Bush to help ease him into the offense. Raiders have the second best rushing attack in the league averaging 159.3 yards a game.
Will Raiders blitzing scheme pay off?
The Raiders have been one of the most blitz-heavy teams in recent weeks averaging 24 per game. Their opponents are averaging an NFL-low 35.7 percent in completed passes. Tebow completes only 23.5 percent of his passes when he’s blitzed.
The Broncos will be wise to feed the ball to McGahee with their 8th ranked rushing attack if Tebow is going to survive the game. If Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy knows what’s good for him, he’ll take advantage of the Raider’s defense’s aggressive nature and throw a few screens either to McGahee or leading receiver Eric Decker.