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NFL SPOTLIGHT WEEK 8

Tonight

November 05, 2001

Denver (4-3) at Oakland (5-1)

6 p.m., Channel 7

The line: Oakland by 51/2.

Story line: The Raiders might be the best team in the NFL right now. They can make a major statement here against a team that's beaten them seven straight times and 11 of their last 12 meetings. "They have something on us. I'm not sure what," says Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon. Since winning three of their first four, Denver has been so-so, in large measure because Brian Griese's shoulder has been sore and he's missing Ed McCaffrey, his most reliable possession receiver. The Raiders have injuries, too. They won 20-10 in Philadelphia last week despite going most of the game with three backups on the offensive line. Unlike most other teams, however, the Raiders have a surprising amount of veteran depth. "I can't think of a rookie on this team who plays," says guard Steve Wisniewski.

Keys to the game: The Raiders have a sterling chance for revenge after being dominated for so long. That said, the Raiders are notorious for missing tackles and blowing assignments--are you listening, Anthony Dorsett? The Broncos have yet to settle on a No. 1 running back. Mike Anderson started against Oakland last season and ran for 187 yards. Where have you gone, Terrell Davis?

*--*

MATCHUPS DEN OAK Points Scored 23.4 (7) 25.2 (5) Points Allowed 20.6 (16) 17.5 (12) Passing Off. 210.6 (15) 212.2 (14) Rushing Off. 115.3 (12) 115.5 (11) Passing Def. 213.3 (21) 202.3 (13) Rushing Def. 98.0 (10) 87.5 (7) 3rd-down conv. 37.6% (16) 42.4% (8) Turnover Ratio +4 (8) +3 (10) Sacks 17 (10) 15 (13)

*--*

The pick: Oakland. The Raiders have too many offensive weapons for Denver to contain.

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