The Denver Broncos host the Oakland Raiders tonight (8:25 ET, ESPN & WatchESPN) in a matchup that should look very familiar to Monday Night Football viewers.
This is the 17th time these teams have met on Monday Night Football, the most frequently played matchup in the 44-year history of the series.
The teams feature quarterbacks that are polar opposites in their playing style. Denver’sPeyton Manning is a pocket passer. Over his last 10 seasons, he’s totaled 167 rushing yards. Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor, on the other hand, has 162 rushing yards in two games this season.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the Raiders led the NFL in rushing yards (397) and yards per rush (5.9), thanks largely to Pryor.
Based on his first two games, Pryor is on pace to finish the season with 1,296 rushing yards, which would shatter the single-season quarterback rushing record of 1,039, set byMichael Vick in 2006.
Pryor has allowed the Raiders to add a new wrinkle to their offense: the zone-read option. The Raiders have run 13 zone-read option plays this season, with Pryor keeping the ball nine times (69%), averaging 7.6 yards per rush. All other quarterbacks to run such plays have only kept the ball 13% of the time, at 5.7 yards per rush.
Unlike Pryor, Manning’s work comes mainly through the air, instead of with his legs.
This season, Manning has gotten off to not only one of his best starts, but one of the best starts in NFL history.
Through two games, he has nine touchdown passes, tied with Drew Brees (2009) and Charley Johnson (1965) for the most through the first two games of the season in NFL history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. With two touchdowns tonight, Manning would tie the mark set by Tom Brady (2011) for the most in a season's first three games. That season, Brady finished with 39 touchdown passes.
Manning has proven to be especially efficient going down the field. Over the last two seasons, Manning has completed 48 percent of his throws at least 20 yards downfield, the second-best rate in the NFL behind Colin Kaepernick.
That might not come as a surprise, but in his last three seasons (2008-10) in Indianapolis, Manning completed just 33 percent of those throws, 19th in the NFL.