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Raiders vs. Broncos key matchup: Raider pass rush must disrupt Manning's timing

Peyton Manning thus far hasn't missed a beat in his return from neck surgery. How can the Raiders slow him down?

Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

This year, Peyton Manning is the ninth-best player in fantasy football. That's not just quarterbacks, that is overall. He has turned Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker into bona fide fantasy superstars. He has turned the Broncos from a plodding zone-read machine under Tim Tebow into a balanced precision attack which has run away with the AFC West. Without Manning, the Broncos are nothing special. With him, they are Super Bowl contenders.

The one thing the Broncos' much-maligned offensive line has done well this year is keeping Manning's jersey clean. He hasn't been hit or sacked very often, and when Manning is given time to throw he is as good as any passer in league history. Raider fans remember what he did to the team earlier in the season. The key for the Raiders will be a dedicated pass rush. Without Willis McGahee the Bronco rushing attack is spotty at best and everyone in the stadium should know that Manning is going to air the ball out early and often. Once the ball is in the air, Oakland's depleted secondary won't have a chance, so the only way to stop Manning is to get to him before he even throws the ball. I hope to see house blitzes, safety blitzes, lineman stunts, the works. Any funky creative pass rush that is in Jason Tarver's bag of tricks ought to be used.