OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 06: Joel Dreessen #81 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after catching a six-yard touchdown pass against the Oakland Raiders in the first quarter at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 6, 2012 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Denver (9-3) and Oakland (3-9) will be in the spotlight on Thursday Night Football at 6:20 p.m. on the NFL Network.
"I don't care what their record is," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "This is still our division rival and we're going to take them as that."
The odds obviously and distinctly point in the favor of Denver. The Broncos are as hot as any team in the league, having won seven games in a row. The Raiders are the exact opposite, having been defeated in five straight games.
"Even though this is a team that's scuffling on paper, that doesn't mean they can't make play," safety Rahim Moore said. "Just because we've been winning doesn't mean they're going to give us a victory."
The Broncos could very well assert their dominance much the way they did in the first matchup this season when Denver won 37-6. Yet, Oakland and their fans would enjoy nothing more than to spoil the streak.
The Raiders are down, but it remains their job to compete.
"Teams every week are fighting for something. They're fighting for their jobs, they're fighting for a playoff spot," tight end Joel Dreessen said. "Every team has something to prove when they take the field."
In in rivalry that dates back to 1960, every contest between the Broncos and Raiders is an important one.
Playing on a short week
Everyone loves a short work-week, except if you play in the NFL.
The Broncos held off the Buccaneers on Sunday afternoon and four short days later they will at it again in Oakland. It provides little time to study your opponent and, more importantly, very little time to recover from the previous grueling contest.
"It's not too bad-not for me, I'm one of the young guys. I'm ready to go today if I have to," linebacker Von Miller said. "Having a couple days, it'll be good. Some of the vets have a harder time."
The Raiders are forced with this same abbreviated conflict, they played Sunday against Cleveland.
Some players and teams are actually better with a short turnaround. Peyton Manning has capitalized on an opponent's lack of preparation time, he is 7-1 in Thursday games with 28 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
"It's just a challenge," emphasized Manning. "I've played in a few Thursday night games and it seems like every one of them has been on the road, now that I think about it-which makes it even more of a challenge."
The Broncos and Raiders will get extended rest and preparation time, 10 days, before their Week 14 contests.
Jockeying for playoff position
AFC West Division title; check. First round playoff bye; to be determined.
The Broncos sit in a three-way tie with New England and Baltimore for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and a first round bye. New England holds the head-to-head advantage over Denver, if their records remain the same at the end of the year, and Baltimore-Denver matchup next weekend will have implications on seeding as well.
"You just stress that you want to get better," Fox eluded. "The important thing is getting in that tournament and then be playing really well when you get in."
Momentum going into the playoffs is crucial, and playing meaningful games, whether they are perceived that way or are in actuality, to prepare can get a team ready for a playoff run.
"There is no other stadium atmosphere out there like that," Miller said of the O.co Colesium, the home of the Oakland Raiders. "I really enjoy going there and playing."
The "Black Hole" is a perfect backdrop for some of the craziest fans in the NFL. It's not a premiere destination for any opponent, even though the Raiders are only 2-4 there this year, but to understand that, one must first experience it.
"I've heard so many stories about them, actually I'm excited about it, I'm ready to go," rookie defensive lineman Derek Wolfe said. "Ready to see what it's all about."
There is no place like the "Black Hole", some opponents cannot wait to get out, but there is also no place like it to go in a get a road victory.
"I like it," said Bailey. "I like playing on the road because I like people to boo us and I like to make them shut up, so to speak. That's just the way it is."
Denver has won three of the last four at the O.co Colesium, formerly named the Oakland Colesium.
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