Broncos vs. Raiders 2012 game preview: Denver has an eye on the bye

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The Broncos and Raiders will renew a rivalry that dates all the way back to 1960, when the two played in the AFL.

The Denver Broncos will meet the Oakland Raiders for their second and final contest against each other on Thursday night at O.co Coliseum.

Denver has already wrapped up the AFC West and is now playing for seeding, with hopes of earning a bye week in the AFC Playoffs. Peyton Manning has been sensational once again, throwing his team into contention with a remarkable line of 29 touchdowns compared to only nine interceptions.

When these two teams met on Sept. 30, Manning torched Oakland to the tune of 338 yards and a trio of touchdowns on 30 of 38 passing.

The Raiders have nothing to play for record-wise, but they certainly bring emotion into the game following the sudden death of head coach Dennis Allen's father, Grady. All indications are that Allen will coach the game, albeit with a heavy heart.

Allen was also Denver's defensive coordinator under John Fox last year, so the motivation will be there on the Raiders sideline to pull off an upset.

Meet the Oakland Raiders

It's been a rough decade out on the East Bay, and the 2012-13 campaign has been no different. Many experts picked the Raiders to be right in the hunt come this time of year, but a horrendous defense has been their downfall once again.

Oakland ranks 25th and 28th against passing and rushing yards, respectively. Defense has been a constant problem for the Silver and Black, who haven't been able to adjust.

Offensively, the Raiders haven't been prolific, but rather mediocre. Carson Palmer has thrown 20 touchdowns, but most of that has been offset with 13 interceptions. Darren McFadden also had a sub-par campaign before getting hurt, averaging just 3.3 yards per carry. The oft-injured back hasn't played since Nov. 4 with a foot injury.

Meet the Denver Broncos

Denver came into the season with lofty expectations once it signed Peyton Manning, and the results followed suit. After a slow start, the Broncos have now rattled off seven consecutive victories, including last week's 31-23 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

While Manning is garnering most of the spotlight, it's been the defense that has Denver fans thinking of their Super Bowl win since 1998. Denver ranks sixth against the pass and seventh against the run, allowing less than 100 yards on the ground per game.

Head coach John Fox has always been a defense-first guy, leading many fine outfits during his time with the Carolina Panthers. Now with Manning on his side instead of Jake Delhomme, Fox may finally find out what elusive glory tastes like.

Local Takes: Oakland Raiders

Levi Damien from Silver and Black Pride says it looks like the Raiders will get a few men in their secondary back after watching them leave with concussions on Sunday:

Now it appears Mike Mitchell and Matt Giordano both passed their concussion tests and were practicing with the team. The same can't be said for Phillip Adams who stood on the sidelines watching practice. He will receive two more concussion test this week to see if he is able to return for Thursday's game against the Broncos.

Local Takes: Denver Broncos

Brian Shrout of Mile High Report talks about Denver's chances to move up in playoff positioning:

Is it possible for Denver to secure the #1 seed? Yes. It is simply highly unlikely. Could they realistically end up with the #2 seed? Sure. They would simply need a fair amount of help from New England and Baltimore. Are they likely to end up with the #3 seed? That to me seems to be the most likely scenario given Denver and Baltimore's respective schedules. If the Broncos can defeat the Ravens in two weeks, I'd be fairly certain that Denver will end up with the #3 seed. Could they end up staying in the #4 spot. Absolutely.

Follow the Fun

Be sure to check out SB Nation's team blogs, Silver and Black Pride and Mile High Report, for more analysis and highlights from the game.

Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:

@MileHighReport

@silverandblackp

@Jeff_Legwold

@Jerrymcd

Prediction

Peyton Manning vs. the 25th ranked pass defense in the NFL. Enough said, but I'll continue anyway.

Denver needs to win this game in order to keep pace with the other powers in the AFC. With a victory, the Broncos will have a de facto half-bye week to lick their wounds before heading into a huge game against the Baltimore Ravens on the road. Knowing all of this, it's hard to see Denver not taking care of business.

Oakland will come out fired up for its hurting coach, but that only goes so far. Ultimately, it comes down to personnel on the field, and the Raiders just don't match up. It's likely Palmer will be under duress most of the night thanks to Von Miller. When that happens, Palmer gets quick feet and fires early, leading to his turnover problem.

It's a classic trap game scenario, but Manning won't hear of it.

The pick: 35-17, Broncos

Odds

Example: The Broncos are favored by 10 points, according to Oddsshark.

Next Week

The Raiders will play host to the Kansas City Chiefs, while Denver travels to take on the Baltimore Ravens next Sunday.

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