The Oakland Raiders are set to kickoff their 2011 season with a game against the Denver Broncos on Monday night. They're coming off a season in which they, once again, missed the playoffs, but they took an excellent route in attempting to make them: beating the rest of the AFC West. Oakland dominated their division rivals in 2010 and looked great in those games, but they failed to get anything done outside of it, and thus missed the playoffs. If they can give that kind of showing against the rest of the AFC West again, they'll stand a great shot of making it.
And that all begins in week one. The Denver Broncos are playing the host and hoping that the changes they've made will prepare them for a better season, and getting revenge on the Raiders would be a great start to that, considering the awful beating they took twice in 2011. The Silver and Black took home victories of 39-23 and 59-14 in 2011, and seem to hold the edge in that regard once again.
For one, they've got more stability on their hands, at least on the surface. They've as much stability as you can have after losing your best offensive and defensive players in free agency, but the key spots which helped them in 2010 remain: the defensive line and a strong rushing attack.
Denver has far from a terrible offensive line, but they were brutalized a season ago in both games by the Raiders huge defensive line. That line remains huge and should remain a huge thorn in the Broncos' side, halting their rushing attack and keeping the quarterback under pressure. They've less to depend on in the back-end, with Nnamdi Asomugha out the door, but the Raiders certainly feel confident in their defense making the stops they need.
Darren McFadden is looking to lead the offense for the Raiders, much like he was able to do in 2010. That's where they're going to beat the Broncos: on the ground. Jason Campbell remains a solid quarterback, and the Raiders do feel good about some young receivers, but it will be the McFadden show one way or another. On the other side, Denver will be hoping that their first-round pick, Von Miller, can help slow down the Oakland rushing attack and produce some sacks alongside veteran star Elvis Dumervil.
The game is set for Monday night at 7:15 p.m. pacific and will be on ESPN.