Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos: Derek Carr is tearing it up, but he’s getting plenty of help from his offensive line

Carr certainly deserves a lot of credit for making the leap from good to great this year. But so does his offensive line.

Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) sacks Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) forcing a fumble during first quarter action in the NFL game at Denver, Colo. December 13, 2015. (© Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)
Denver Broncos linebacker Von Miller (58) sacks Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) forcing a fumble during first quarter action in the NFL game at Denver, Colo. December 13, 2015. (© Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)
Derek Carr and the Raiders will face the Denver Broncos on Sunday. (© Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)

Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is tearing it up so far this season.

In eight games, he’s thrown for 2,321 yards, 17 touchdowns, three interceptions and is completing 66.3 percent of his passes. The third-year player out of Fresno State has been so good that he’s even starting to receive some MVP buzz, which got louder after his 513-yard, four-touchdown outing Sunday against Tampa Bay.

Carr certainly deserves a lot of credit for making the leap from good to great this year. But so does his offensive line. Perhaps no O-Line in football does a better job of keeping its quarterback upright than Oakland’s. Carr has been sacked on just 2.7 percent of his dropbacks this season (nine times), and he’s faced pressure just 20.3 percent of the time. Put simply: No one is getting cleaner passing pockets than Carr, and he’s taking advantage of that in a big way.

via GIPHY

The good news for the Denver Broncos (6-2), who meet the Oakland Raiders (6-2) in an AFC West showdown Sunday, is that they excel in collapsing passing pockets and closing off throwing lanes. The Broncos have the best pass defense in the NFL. They lead the league in sacks (29), and are limiting opposing QBs to a minuscule 183.9 yards through the air per game.

Something’s gotta give Sunday — Oakland’s pass protection or Denver’s pass defense. Finding out which one does should be fun.

The Von Miller oversized glasses matchup to keep an eye on

Well, the Raiders’ O-Line versus Denver’s pass “D” is ground well-covered now, so let’s go with something else. How about Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack versus whichever poor soul is matched up against him? (Most of the time, it’s likely to be Broncos right tackle Donald Stephenson.)

The last time Mack faced Denver, he racked up five sacks. Yes, you read that correctly.

He abused Michael Schofield, so much so that former Bronco Mark Schelereth said Schofield “doesn’t belong in the NFL.” Harsh — and incorrect — in retrospect, but you get the idea.

Mack is rolling right now, with five sacks in his last five games. Look out.

How to watch the game

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California

TV: NBC

The line

OAKLAND -1.5

The pick

Broncos 24, Raiders 20

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Christian Clark

Author: Christian Clark

Christian Clark covers sports. He's worked for outlets that include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Oklahoman, Columbia Missourian and Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine. He likes music and Mexican food. Lots and lots of Mexican food.