Peyton Manning appears to be a shoo-in for an unprecedented fifth NFL MVP award, but the Denver Broncos have their eye on another prize as they prepare to visit the Oakland Raiders in Sunday's regular-season finale. Denver can clinch the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs by knocking off the skidding Raiders, who will be seeking to avoid a sixth straight loss. The Broncos have won four in a row against Oakland, including three by an average of 20 points with Manning under center.
Manning surpassed 5,000 yards for the first time in his career and eclipsed Tom Brady's NFL record with his 51st touchdown pass in last week's thrashing of Houston. Quarterback has hardly been an area of stability for the Raiders, who will switch back to Terrelle Pryor after rookie Matt McGloin lost his fifth straight start. Pryor's agent, Jerome Stanley, complained that Oakland is setting up Pryor to fail, prompting Raiders coach Dennis Allen to call it the "stupidest thing" he's ever heard.
TV: 4:25 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Broncos -11.5. O/U: 53.5.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (12-3): Denver can lose the top seed with a loss and a win by New England so there will be no lack of motivation despite the 37-21 romp against the Raiders in Week 3 - a game in which Manning threw for 374 yards and three touchdowns with a season-low five incompletions. Manning, who guides an offense that averages a league-best 38.1 points, has a ton of weapons at his disposal, evidenced by the fact that the Broncos are the only team in league history to have five players score at least 10 touchdowns. One of those players, wideout Wes Welker, is not expected to play due to a concussion and linebacker Von Miller is done for the season after tearing his ACL in last week's win over Houston.
ABOUT THE RAIDERS (4-11): Pryor, who lost his job as a result of a knee injury and lack of production, has struggled in the passing game (five TDs, 11 INTs) but is a dangerous threat with his legs, rushing for 527 yards and averaging 7.1 yards a pop. Backup Rashad Jennings has been a capable fill-in for oft-injury Darren McFadden, who is finally healthy, so expect Oakland to try and utilize the ground game to both keep the ball away from Manning and alleviate the pressure on a defense that has surrendered an average of 37.5 points in the last four games. Andre Holmes, a second-year player from Hillsdale, has bolstered the passing game with 19 catches in his past four games.
1. The Broncos need 18 points to shatter New England's single-season record total of 589.
2. Pryor is three yards shy of breaking Rich Gannon's franchise record for rushing yards by a QB in a season.
3. Manning can break Drew Brees' single-season mark yardage total (5,476) with 266 yards Sunday.
PREDICTION: Broncos 37, Raiders 20