The AFC West is about to be well represented on Sunday Night Football when the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos square off in a game both teams need.
Denver and Peyton Manning have dominated the competition, blowing by both the Baltimore Ravens and little brother Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
Oakland lost its first contest in a close one with the Indianapolis Colts, but turned things around last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Here is everything fans need to know about the primetimes game.
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
When: 8:30 PM ET, September 23, 2013
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket, Game Rewind
Raiders Player to Watch: Terrelle Pryor
Pryor is the reason the Raiders are relevant this year thanks to his ability to run the football and complete a decent percent of his passes. Pryor has frustrated opponents with the read option for two games now and shows no signs of slowing down.
Denver has yet to defend the read option, so Pryor could find some success against the defensive unit. That will be key as the Raiders will need to control the tempo of the game and keep Manning off the field.
Broncos Player to Watch: Knowshon Moreno
Knowshon Moreno had a bit of a breakout game last week and may have stolen the starting job. It’s not as if the Broncos need a running game to get past the Raiders, but it’s addition will help balance things out.
Besides, the big-name players on both sides of the football are already known. If Moreno can actually turn into a legitimate running threat with defenses focused on Manning, the Broncos are that much more dangerous.
Matchup to Watch: Read Option vs. Broncos
This is what the game really boils down to — Oakland’s defense has not looked horrible, but it stands no chance against Peyton Manning. Conversely, the Broncos could struggle against the read option, but it’s the only chance the Raiders have as Pryor is not beating anyone with his arm and Darren McFadden has a questionable injury history.
The Raiders’ ability to find success with the read option will decide the game.
Peyton Manning is unstoppable. The Raiders will go on to win more games than most expect, but there’s no chance for Oakland here. Peyton Manning is playing like he’s seven years younger and will have no issues torching the Raiders’ defense.
Especially at home, Broncos will have no issues here. The defense could experience a hiccup, but Manning will score so many points it won’t matter.
Broncos 45, Raiders 24