The rivalry between these two teams has raged for decades and takes a national stage for Week 1 of the NFL Regular Season.
Both teams enter the 2011 season in a rebuilding mode. The Broncos are experiencing a quarterback controversy, and the Raiders have suffered a supplemental draft disaster. Both teams have suffered the long off-season lockout.
Week 1 brings the two together again and will further separate their fans, as their first matchup of the year will prove to be a pivotal game for both teams.
This face-off also serves to form a national opinion of both squads.
The team that takes the win on Monday night will take an immediate upper-hand in the division and in the eyes of the country.
Denver faces only one real challenge against Oakland on Monday: stopping the run.
Darren McFadden and Michael Bush made Denver's defense look like a high school junior varsity team in their two games against the Broncos last year.
What did Denver do to answer these dismal defeats?
They drafted Von Miller.
Miller enters Monday night as one of the most exciting new players in the league and a preseason shoe-in for Defensive Rookie of the Year. As far as Denver's fans are concerned, he's already come home with the award after some very impressive games thus far.
If having Miller in the defensive backfield wasn't enough, the Broncos have 2009 NFL sack leader Elvis Dumervil on the line again for the first time since his season-ending injury during camp in 2010. Dumervil looks to catch his old stride and continue his habit of destroying offensive lines and torturing opposing quarterbacks.
Darren McFadden will have a tough night if he plans on running straight at Miller and co-linebacker Joe Mays. Mays has already displayed that he was a great pick-up by the Broncos front office. This guy can flat out play.
Denver will certainly be missing injured linebacker D.J. Williams, but the talent that surrounds this defense is more than enough to compensate.
If the Broncos defense, anchored by "Doom and Gloom," is able to keep Jason Campbell on the run, their chances of forcing Oakland to run the ball will certainly improve their odds. Campbell is inaccurate as it is, if they can force him to scramble his accuracy will decrease further.
Push McFadden to the outside, and the Broncos' swift linebackers will be too fast to outrun. If the runners do make their way past the stifling speed in the middle of the field, they just have to look forward to a back-breaking hit from rookie Rahim Moore. Moore has said time and again that he is trained "to deliver pain."
On the other side of the ball, Kyle Orton will look to silence the critics and put an end to "Tebowmania" in Denver; at least for now.
Denver's defensive beasts should keep the Raiders off the scoreboard for the most part, and allow Orton to play with a lead for the majority of the game.
Add the assistance of Knownshon Moreno and touchdown hawk Willis McGahee, and Orton and his talented receivers will command a significant lead by half-time. Efficient running after the half will ensure that the clock runs quickly, and the game will end before the Raiders know what has happened.
The odds are against Denver in this game and in the AFC West in 2011, but how much is that really worth? This writer will be in Las Vegas during the Monday night game, and you can be assured that his chips are on Denver for the win.
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