- Gary Horton, Scouts Inc.
Entering the 2008 season, do we really know these two teams like we have in the past? Denver is young and made a lot of changes on both sides of the ball, but they like what they have seen in the preseason and have a gifted young QB in Jay Cutler. Oakland has some outstanding individual players -- but can they gel as a unit? Is QB JaMarcus Russell ready to lead this team? Can the Raider defense bounce back after a bad 2007? There are a lot of questions to be answered by both teams.
When Denver has the ball
There is no mystery to Denver's offensive philosophy. The Broncos will run to set up the pass with Cutler and they run their zone blocking schemes to perfection with quick, athletic lineman. They face an Oakland run defense that underachieved and ranked next to last in 2007. The Raiders will bring their safeties and linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage in run support and put their corners on an island in pass coverage without a lot of safety help over the top. With a good early run game, Cutler will have good matchups in the passing game outside, but without his best receiver, Brandon Marshall (suspension), the ability to go deep will be problematic. Look for Cutler to utilize play-action and his ability to roll-out and bootleg could lead to some nice gains and put a lot of pressure on the Oakland defensive perimeter. Also, look for the Raiders to possibly blitz Cutler more than they have in the past.
Denver and Oakland both have plenty of question marks heading into the season opener.