Monday Night Football: Broncos can deliver a Christmas Raiding party

Case Keenum
On the Case: Keenum still has enough firepower at his disposal to ground the Raiders

Romilly Evans reckons Denver's road trip to Oakland's Coliseum, for perhaps the last time, will end in another house of horror shows from Derek Carr's crew

"The Raiders have the game's most ineffective run defense with almost 150 yards conceded per game on average"

Denver Broncos @ Oakland Raiders
Start-time: Tuesday, 01:15
TV: Live on Sky Sports Action

Broncos' run game has the edge in this basement battle

After a host of humdingers across recent Monday Night Football encounters, it appears the schedulers have come up humbug this Yuletide season. Indeed, the Denver Broncos at the Oakland Raiders is less Christmas cracker and more Boxing Day leftovers. And cold, soggy leftovers at that. Nevertheless, let's see if we can stick some unsavoury remains in the oven and salvage a few serviceable sandwiches out of them.

At a time when the NFL's elite are still jostling for play-off berths and seeding, these two lacklustre outfits are licking their narcissistic wounds and looking back with regret on campaigns of gross underachievement. Oakland just shades it for living down to expectations, but Denver still had a legitimate postseason shot until this month. So it arguable that the Broncos will be feeling the most miffed and demotivated for this Monday Night road game.

After a three-game winning streak was snapped against an aggressively average pair in Cleveland and San Francisco, Denver have also begun to lose some big beasts to injury like dinosaurs in a meteor strike. Season-enders have already carted Chris Harris and Emmanuel Sanders off to the treatment table, but they'll be lucky to get any assistance soon on a long and winding queue back to the Broncos' sanatorium.

Regardless, at least there's no infighting in Denver, with the locker room largely content, accepting of their collective fate and looking to build for a better campaign by securing a .500 regular season. At 3-11, the Oakland Raiders have far less dignity, although they will want to send what's left of their faithful fans home for the holidays with something to cheer about. Especially since this is possibly their final game at the Alameda Coliseum.

Play-by-play execution can see Denver land a telling blow

That said, Oakland's season has been beset by injury woes of their own, set against a backdrop of a wider comedy of errors. The pressing problems include but are not limited to: pass rush, disrupting the pocket and slowing the run. Derek Carr still seems to be fighting through lingering niggles (he's barely been 2016 sharp in any game), his receivers have struggled due to inconsistent opportunities and erratic service, while the run game has been staccato at best. Aside from that, penalties, missed opportunities and avoidable mistakes have killed too many drives.

In short, what may've looked like early season blips have quickly escalated into season-defining trends. Only talismanic tight end, Jared Cook, has really excelled as their one ray of light. And if Carr can keep finding this looming 1.96-metre mismatch of a receiver, then Oakland can certainly keep pace with the mediocre skills of Case Keenum, who calls the signals for Denver.

That said, execution on a play-by-play basis remains key - and Denver's more reliable team cohesion sets them apart in the final MNF of the year. The Raiders have the game's most ineffective run defense with almost 150 yards conceded per game on average. Denver RB Phillip Lindsay can accordingly take advantage, while legendary pass rusher Von Miller and his doughty D can wrap up Carr enough times to stem the supply to Cook.

Take Denver with confidence, then, on a number of trifling handicaps.

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