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Broncos Week 4 Team Grades: Broncos Win AFC West Race Against Raiders

By Rick Brown

The Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos met for the 116th time in the Mile High City on Sunday. Each team was looking to rebound from a tough loss on the road in Week 3, and this was a hard-fought game with two talented teams. The Broncos did a good job against the Raiders offense—especially after Oakland’s starting quarterback, Derek Carr, went down with an injury in the third quarter and did not return. But Denver’s offense continues to start off hot and then have problems finishing games. Luckily, Denver’s defense came through in the last two minutes with a big turnover to seal the victory for Denver, 16-10. The Broncos will go into their bye week with a 3-1 record.

Offense – C+

The plan all week was for the Broncos to run the ball against the Raiders — and they did, for a while. Denver ran for 146 yards but the run game seemed to disappear in the second half.

C.J. Anderson had a great day and rushed for 95 yards. Trevor Siemian threw for 179 yards and one touchdown. While Siemian was not spectacular against Oakland, he did a good job of protecting the ball.

The offense did not do a good job of converting on third down, going 5 of 16. Look for the Broncos to work on extending drives during the bye week. The team was doing a great job of converting third downs, but performed poorly against the Buffalo Bills (3-1) and the Raiders.

The Broncos’s offense did just enough this week to eek out a win, while the defense continues to perform at a high level.

Defense – A

The Broncos defense showed up against the Raiders offense. Denver started off strong and they did a good job of containing Marshawn Lynch. The Raiders were held to 24 yards rushing and 230 yards passing.

gettyimages 856425904 Broncos Week 4 Team Grades: Broncos Win AFC West Race Against Raiders

Strong safety Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos intercepts a deep pass intended for wide receiver Amari Cooper of the Oakland Raiders as free safety Bradley Roby #29 covers the play late in the fourth quarter on Oct. 1, 2017 in Denver. (credit: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

While the Broncos secondary gave up a couple of big plays to Derek Carr, the secondary saved the day late in the fourth quarter, causing the game’s only turnover. Late in the third quarter, Carr was injured and was replaced by EJ Manuel. The Raiders offense finally starting moving the ball and tried a late-game rally. Manuel found early success against the Broncos’ secondary, but this success was short-lived. During what could have been the game winning-drive, Manuel was intercepted by Justin Simmons, ending the Raiders’ redzone attempt.

Special Teams – B+

The Broncos special teams were almost perfect against the Raiders—outside of Brandon McManus missing a field goal, going 2 for 3 in the game. The Broncos may have found a punt return weapon in Isaiah McKenzie, as he was doing a great job of returning punts. After the Broncos’ failed fake punt attempt, the Raiders attempted a fake punt and the Broncos were quick to stuff the Raiders.

Even the Broncos punter had a great day. Riley Dixon performed well and was able to pin the Raiders behind the 10-yard line twice.

Coaching – B+

The coaching staff did a good job of leaning on the strength of this Broncos team—the rushing game. Through three quarters, the Broncos were able to effectively run the ball and give the defense a rest. The Broncos coaching staff did a good job of stuffing the Raiders rushing attack. Finishing out games continues to plague the Broncos, so look for the team to work on this before it costs the team too many victories.

Looking Ahead

The Broncos head into the bye week with a 3-1 record. If Denver continues to win 75 percent of the remaining games, then there is a really good chance they could make it to the playoffs. During the bye week, the offense needs to work on running the ball late into the fourth quarter. The offense cannot continue to count entirely on the defense to win games.

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