Dec 22, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) gives a thumbs up to cheering fans against the Houston Texans during the second half at Reliant Stadium. The Broncos won 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports
KUSA - Peyton Manning is about more than records, and in Sunday's season finale the Denver Broncos quarterback will have his focus on the biggest objective.
The Broncos (12-3) need to win to secure the top spot in the AFC going into the postseason. A loss, and Denver has to depend on Buffalo beating New England to retain the No. 1 seed.
"It's an important game for us," Manning said this week. "We're playing a division team, great rivalry in the history between the two teams. I've played the Raiders before, but this is only the fourth time in this division rivalry and there is a lot of pride between the two teams. That's where our focus is."
In addition to his NFL-record 51 TD passes this season, Manning has 5,211 yards and 425 completions with just 10 interceptions. He needs 266 yards to break the single-season passing yards record (Drew Brees' had 5,476 in 2011). Manning currently is third on the passing yards list, 24 yards behind Tom Brady (who had 5,235 yards also in 2011).
In the September game against the Raiders, Manning threw for 374 yards and had just five incomplete passes (32-of-37). And making it a bit easier Sunday for Manning is the fact that Oakland could be without starting cornerbacks Mike Jenkins (hamstring) and Tracy Porter (hip flexor). Both are questionable to play for an already struggling defense.
The Raiders lost last week to San Diego, keeping the Chargers' playoff hopes alive. Oakland played sloppy with seven penalties in the first half. A lot came from the defense on third downs, allowing San Diego's offense to keep going.
The Raiders (4-11) have lost five in a row, and will start Terrelle Pryor at quarterback in the finale. Coach Dennis Allen said earlier this week that switching Pryor for rookie Matt McGloin was "part of the plan."
"It's been a while since we've gotten an opportunity to see Terrelle in a game and I want to get him in the game and get another opportunity to evaluate him," Allen said.
In the Raiders' 37-21 loss at Denver on Sept. 23, Pryor was 19-of-28 passing for 281 yards and a touchdown but rushed for just 36 yards on four carries.
Before spraining his knee against Philadelphia on Nov. 3 then hurting it again the next week against the Giants, Pryor was the leading rusher among NFL quarterbacks but had 11 interceptions and only five touchdowns. The Raiders were 3-5 when Pryor started.
McGloin has started since the Nov. 17 game against San Diego, and Pryor has been rotating in the past two weeks.
The Broncos' offense is on the cusp of becoming the highest-scoring team in NFL history (589 by New England in 2007). Denver needs just 18 points to set the league scoring record and 28 points to become the first team to score 600 points in a season.
They attempt it again without receiver Wes Welker (concussion). He was back at practice this week for the first time since sustaining his second concussion this season on Dec. 8. And the latest defensive injury was Von Miller's season-ending ACL tear in last week's game at Houston.
"We've been through a lot," said receiver Eric Decker, who last week became the fifth player on the team with 10 touchdowns this season. "It's a testament to everybody if we can finish out the season strong with a win ... and go into the playoffs with some momentum."
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