On Sunday, an injury-depleted Raiders secondary allowed 384 passing yards and four touchdowns to Ben Roethisberger. They allowed Mike Wallace to roam free and collect 123 yards and a touchdown, and gave up two short-yardage TD catches to tight end Heath Miller. Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the game with one of the best arms, but the Raiders may face an even tougher challenge this Sunday against Broncos QB Peyton Manning.
The Broncos lost to the Texans on Sunday at home but Houston is looking like the best team in the AFC. Denver was playing from behind all day and Manning threw for 330 yards and two touchdowns. The previous week, Manning threw three first-half interceptions against Atlanta, a team which is also thin in the secondary. The Falcons accomplished this by having two deep safeties and anticipating Manning's throws. He is still accurate but no longer has the same zip on his throws, so they arrive a tad late. For a good defensive back, that opens the door for a pick.
In order for the Raiders to be successful against Manning, the linebackers are key. If they can stop the run without requiring a safety to stuff the box, then the safeties will be able to play center field and defend Manning's deep throws. Too often, Tyvon Branch was seen tackling a Steelers running back on a five-yard rush. He can't do that against Denver. While Denver has considerably worse wide receivers than Pittsburgh, they also have a much better running game with Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno. If the front seven can stuff the run effectively like they did against San Diego, then the secondary will be able to more effectively stop Peyton Manning and his receivers.