5 things to watch for in Broncos vs. Raiders Sunday

The Raiders (2-1) face the Broncos (2-1) on the road Sunday for a pivotal AFC West showdown.

After both teams suffered disappointing losses in Week 3, the Raiders and Broncos find themselves needing a critical victory to keep pace with the undefeated Chiefs. The Raiders were crushed by the Redskins and the Broncos fell to the Bills.

The Raiders’ offense will need a bounce-back performance against a strong Denver defense.

Here are five things you should know about the Broncos:

1. Raiders wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were embarrassed by Josh Norman and the Washington secondary last week. Now they get to go to Denver to face arguably the best secondary in the NFL of the last two seasons. The Broncos’ “No Fly Zone” is led by cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. Free safety Darian Stewart is back for a third season in Denver. Strong safety Justin Simmons is the newest member of the starting secondary after the Broncos released T.J. Ward. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr might have a tough time connecting with his receivers Sunday.

2. The Broncos’ 143 rushing yards per game ranks third best in the league thanks to the resurgence of C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles. But Denver went away from the run against the Bills during the second half. Look for the Broncos to unleash Anderson and Charles versus a Raiders defense that got torched by the Redskins’ Chris Thompson and is giving up 112.3 rushing yards per game. The former Chiefs Pro Bowl running back, Charles, is averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

3. Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian was arguably playing the best football of his career until he ran into the Buffalo defense. After throwing for six touchdowns and running for one during the first two games, Siemian didn’t find the end zone last week and threw two costly interceptions in the second half. Siemian, who had solid protection thanks to rookie left tackle Garett Bolles, failed to get his receivers the ball in the right spots. Siemian should have a better performance against a poor Raiders secondary.

4. Watching pass-rushers Von Miller and Khalil Mack try to outdo each other is always fun. Miller is off to another hot start for the Broncos with three sacks and 12 tackles. Miller’s quickness during running plays was a big reason why the Broncos contained LeSean McCoy in Week 3. Las Vegan Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis give Denver one of the better linebacker crews in the league.

5. When Siemian is playing at a high level, he has plenty of weapons to move up the field. The tandem of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders is back for another season. The emergence of Bennie Fowler III has given the Broncos a third solid option at wide receiver.

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.

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