NFL Wire News

Week 17 Preview: Raiders at Broncos

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Oakland Raiders (3-12) at Denver Broncos (11-4)

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver — TV: CBS

*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Trent Green, Evan Washburn

*Keys to the game: Quarterback Peyton Manning had two interceptions in the first half of the teams’ Nov. 9 meeting, but he picked up his play in the second half and finished with five touchdown passes in a 41-17 Denver win.

Manning takes the field six days after throwing four interceptions at Cincinnati, looking to rebuild momentum going into the playoffs.

Turnovers are the only thing that could sink the Broncos in the regular-season finale. The Raiders are all too familiar with that refrain, with a minus-14 turnover margin. Optimism is high that rookie QB Derek Carr has lasting power, but much uncertainty surrounds the franchise from the top down.

Carr has 20 touchdown passes and is evolving with the help of a strong running game, similar to the Broncos’ scheme. RB Latavius Murray led the Raiders with 86 rushing yards last week, and he drives the game plan to wear down Denver’s defense. Murray averages 5.4 yards per carry, and given the Raiders’ woes on third down, he could be busy on first and second down.

The Broncos could get RB Ronnie Hillman (foot) back for the first time since he was injured at Oakland. Hillman and RB C.J. Anderson have a combined eight touchdowns and are averaging better than 4.3 yards per carry.

*Matchup to watch — Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders vs. Raiders CB D.J. Hayden: Hayden is showing some promise, but he primarily has played on the boundary. He will draw Sanders on occasion in Denver’s assortment of multi-receiver sets and must remain alert to the route combinations that helped Sanders score nine times in the past 10 games.

*Player spotlight — Broncos OLB Von Miller: Miller is second in the AFC with 48 sacks since entering the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick in 2011. His closing speed and burst make Miller a challenge on every snap.

*Fast facts: Anderson is averaging 135.7 yards from scrimmage in his past seven games. … Raiders S Charles Woodson reached 60 career interceptions last week to become the 11th player in NFL history to hit that mark.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

Denver grinds through drives and goes to the air as needed to exhibit how great the separation remains between the best and worst in the West.

*Our pick: Broncos 32-18


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