PFF Preview: Raiders @ Broncos, Week 17
While the Oakland Raiders’ season has not gone exactly as they likely planned, playing spoiler to their AFC West rivals’ first-round bye plans might be the perfect ending for them. The Denver Broncos cannot secure homefield advantage throughout the playoffs anymore, but a loss to the Raiders plus a Cincinnati Bengals victory this Sunday would knock the Broncos down to third place and into the wild card round.
One of the reasons that the Raiders’ season has not been as positive as expected has been their inability to establish an effective running game. No NFL team this season is averaging less than the Raiders’ 78.2 rushing yards per game. While much of that can be attributed to abandoning the run due to playing from behind frequently, the Raiders’ rushing offense just hasn’t been getting it done when called upon. Latavius Murray is the only Raider back to have a rushing grade above 0.0, and it’s at +0.7. As an offense, they have a combined run block grade of -41.7.
They will need to do something to change that, otherwise the Broncos could easily repeat what happened last time these two teams met. The Broncos held the Raiders to a mere 30 yards on 15 attempts. Nine times this year the Broncos have held opponents to less than 70 yards rushing. The defense has 11 different players that grade out in the green (above +1.0) in run defense. In fact, the starting four defensive linemen for the Broncos have a ridiculous combined run defense grade of +44.5.
The Raiders need to establish the run and the Broncos don’t allow it. Something will have to give this Sunday when these two divisional rivals meet for the second time this season.
Here are three players from each team to watch:
Khalil Mack – His run defense grade has been in the green every game this season and at a total of +48.0, leads the NFL.
Donald Penn – His +15.9 overall grade places him eighth among all offensive tackles in the NFL.
Antonio D. Smith – Smith has 40 total QB pressures on the season, the fourth-highest total among all defensive tackles.
C.J. Anderson – Since Week 10, no running back has a higher overall grade than Anderson’s +17.7.
Von Miller – His 69 total QB pressures are the third-most out of any defensive player in the league this season.
Chris Harris Jr. – Leads all corners with an extremely low mark of 0.58 Yards Per Coverage Snap.
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