Raiders face test against Manning

ALAMEDA, Calif. — Coach Dennis Allen said success in the NFL is determined by matchups, and it's unlikely the Oakland Raiders have faced a bigger challenge than pitting his struggling pass defense against what will likely end up as the most explosive passing offense in NFL history.

Going into the regular-season finale Sunday at 1:25 p.m. at O.co Coliseum, Denver quarterback Peyton Manning owns the NFL record with 51 touchdown passes, is 266 yards shy of breaking Drew Brees' NFL record of 5,476 yards in a season, and the Broncos (12-3) can clinch home field throughout the playoffs with a win.

The Raiders (4-11), have lost five straight games in large part because opposing quarterbacks are completing 70.5 percent of their passes for 1,275 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions during that span.

Manning has a season passer rating of 113.0, the Raiders have an opposing passer rating of 112.0 over the past five games.

Nitro, meet glycerin.

On a Denver team with five players with 10 touchdowns or more, three are wide receivers (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker) and one is a tight end (Julius Thomas).

"They're exceptional at how well they work together and how well he can take them to the next play," defensive coordinator Jason Tarver said. "One play comes out, they throw it and complete it, and the next play is someone running a double move and he's gone. (Manning) has been the best at that for a long time."

Denver coach John Fox wasn't about to sell the Raiders short in a conference call with Bay Area reporters.

"If you look down at the schedule, they've had some close games, and a lot of times in the NFL this time of year, the difference between records are the teams that won close games and the teams that didn't," Fox said. "In this league, if you fall asleep at the wheel, you usually wreck. We have to stay focused on what we've got to do."

In the teams' first meeting on Sept. 23, Manning completed 32 of 37 passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns, with the Broncos taking a 27-7 halftime lead en route to a 37-21 victory.

Manning's scoring passes were from 2, 12 and 13 yards as the Raiders limited explosive plays but in doing so relinquished almost everything else.

Denver was 5 of 9 on third downs, one of seven times this season the Raiders surrendered more than 50 percent.

"We've got to go out there and play," Allen said. "It's really going to come down to having a good plan, doing our job. When we've played them in the past, the thing that's really hurt us the most is getting off the field on third down. That's got to be a focus for us."

With much of the offense running through Manning at the line of scrimmage at a furious pace, the Raiders can fall back on having seen it before, as well as having faced Philadelphia's no-huddle offense and a San Diego offensive system similar to Denver's.

In last week's 26-13 loss to San Diego, the Raiders forced Nick Novak to attempt four field goals (he made them all) and tackled better than they did the previous week in a 56-31 loss to Kansas City.

"There have been games where we've been exceptional at forcing field goals in the red zone, and there have been games where we have to do a better job of getting people on the ground," Tarver said.

Raiders middle linebacker Nick Roach gives the Raiders a puncher's chance of being Buster Douglas against Mike Tyson.

"Every game is different," Roach said. "You're the best until you're not. You're bad until you're not anymore. You've still got to play the game. There's no, 'in the last game they did this, so they're going to do this.' They know that, too. It's in the past."


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