Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 9/28/12

A week ago the idea of the Denver Broncos hosting the Oakland Raiders looked like a gimme. That has changed.

The Raiders, led by new coach Dennis Allen put up their biggest win in quite some time last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

And Carson Palmer looked going doing it. The question now is whether they can sustain it.

The Broncos have fought back in both of their last two losses to make it close it in the fourth quarter. But it's a bit of a mirage.

They fell way behind to Atlanta on Monday night in the Georgia Dome on the second Monday night of the season after Peyton Manning threw three first quarter interceptions.

And then Matt Schaub of the Houston Texans lit them up last Sunday at Sports Authority Field in Denver.

Both times Denver came within one score at the end of the game of winning. Which has some encouraged. The problem with that is they're always a little bit of fools gold in coming back late only to come up short. They're not good enough to beat the Falcons or the Texans. At least not yet.

Anyone who thinks those comebacks are indications that they were in those games are fooling themselves.

1. Carson Palmer will also light up the Broncos. Matt Ryan did it. Matt Schaub was even better than that. And Palmer may be finally finding his stride as a Raider after getting his biggest win in silver and black when they defeated the Steelers last Sunday in Oakland.

That doesn't mean the Raiders are going to win, but teams are having no problems throwing against Jack Del Rio's defense so far. Palmer will do the same.

2. Peyton Manning will do the same. Manning has run hot and cold thus far for coach John Fox. And that's to be expected. It's been 18 months since he played before this season and he is still developing chemistry and timing with new receivers Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas.

It's only a matter of time before Manning gets rolling. That's not to say that he will be 100 percent now. But he will be better than he has been the first three weeks. Part of that is his progression and part of that will be the Raiders defense. Either way, Manning and Palmer will put on a an aerial show Sunday.

3. This game will come down to good old-fashioned defense and who does a better job of stopping the run. Willis McGahee vs Darren McFadden. McFadden is the superior back and one of the best in the NFL. But McGahee is a workhorse who gets better as the game goes on.

It's at home, the Broncos' defense is still a work in progress but better than the Raiders' defense and McGahee will be the difference. He runs harder as the game goes on and sooner later the defenses will slow the quarterbacks a little. McGahee will be the difference in the fourth quarter. Broncos win in a close one.

 



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