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Raiders & Broncos have much to prove

As the Raiders and Broncos prepare to square off Monday night in the final game of the 2011 NFL week one schedule, several storylines are emerging. Right now, on Thursday night, we are still a long way and a lot of practices away from the game. While the Broncos are looking forward to proving they are a different team than the 4-12 effort last season, the Raiders look to expel a primetime game skid they have encountered in recent years.

Campbell will have more freedom at L.O.S.

Jason Campbell still has his fair share of critics, and rightfully so until he proves they are wrong. This season is going to be a big testament to exactly what type of quarterback he is and it all starts in Denver on Monday Night Football. Campbell, in what will be a contract year for the veteran quarterback, will have a lot to prove not only to critics, but also to the Raiders’ faithful fans who have been longing for a quarterback who can lead their team to a winning season.

Head Coach Hue Jackson says he has full confidence that Campbell can not only lead his team to the playoffs, but can ultimately win a Super Bowl should the opportunity arise. This year, in his second year in the system, Campbell will be given complete freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage, according to Jackson.

“We’re about staying in positive plays and getting out of negative plays,” Jackson said Wednesday night. “[Jason] understands what I expect and what we’re trying to accomplish. He’s doing a good job of that.”

Jackson continued on to say that the offense as a unit is completely in sync: “We’re totally aligned at the hip… we all are on offense [and] we have to be. From me all the way down through our coaches; through our players. I feel very comfortable about where we are.”

Raiders need to account for Broncos’ linebackers

Of course there was a mention of Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins in the secondary of the Broncos, but most of the focus of Coach Jackson in the media session Wednesday night was aimed at stopping the pass rush of Elvis Dumervil and 2011 number two overall pick, Von Miller.

Jackson said that second year offensive tackle Jared Veldheer is going to have to take his six-foot-eight frame and play as though he is six-foot. Jackson acknowledged that both outside linebackers are exceptional pass rushers who use their skills to get good pressure on passing offenses. This acknowledgement likely means the Raiders are going to focus on running the ball more often than not.

Defense will focus on Broncos’ passing attack

While running back Knowshon Moreno didn’t look great in his 2010 rookie season, the Broncos’ rushing attack is still going to be prevalent in the game-plan for the Raiders defense. The addition of John Fox as head coach suggests that the Broncos are going to be a more run out the clock and play good defense type of club this season.

However, the passing attack of the Broncos will take center stage for them – at least in the first game – as they try to adjust to the new scheme. When asked who the playmakers were for the Broncos, Coach Jackson mentioned three names: Kyle Orton, Eddie Royal, and Brandon Lloyd. Orton was a 4000 yard passer in 2010 and Lloyd made 77 grabs for over 1400 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

Not only that, but if the Raiders get ahead by a couple of scores, as they did the last time they played in Denver, the Broncos will be forced to abandon the run and pass more frequently.

Broncos looking to move forward

One of the topics hovering around Denver this week ithat the Broncos would rather forget than remember is that 59-14 smack down delivered by the rival Raiders at INVESCO Field last season. Just 19 minutes into the game, the Raiders had a 38-0 lead en route to their franchise record in points as well as the worst loss in Denver home game history. All in all, the Raiders posted over 1000 yards of offense against the Broncos in two games and outscored them by a combined score of 98-37 last season.

Both coaches, however, keep insisting that 2011 is a different year than 2010. It goes without saying since not only are there several new faces in both organizations, but there are also several players who have departed from the two teams and won’t be participating in the upcoming game.

Still, quarterback Kyle Orton expects to see some of the same stuff schematically: “Certainly take some things away from it, schematically how they tried to stop us and they did a pretty good job of stopping us, so you’d expect to see some of the same stuff.”

As they try to put it behind them, it’s still hard to deny they will have some extra motivation. Orton claims the Broncos are going to defend their home turf valiantly this season and the Raiders are facing a more daunting task than the seemingly effortless beat down from this divisional rivalry last season.

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