The last time the Denver Broncos were considered to be a contender is when their defense was at the top of the NFL.
They've gotten back to those high rankings this season, standing currently as the second-best scoring defense in the league.
The Broncos are ranked in the top 10 both against the run and the pass, are 11th in turnovers forced, and have been good at getting after the quarterback with 12 sacks.
The main criticism that can be levied against Denver is that the majority of its production has come against the NFL's worst offenses.
The three teams they beat, the New York Giants, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars, don't rank any higher than 23rd in the league in scoring offense.
In those three games, the Broncos allowed 26 total points. They've allowed 50 in their last two games against the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, both losses.
Granted, the Ravens feature an explosive offense led by a former MVP, as the Raiders already experienced this season.
What was surprising was going on the road and letting a struggling Steelers' offense make a number of big plays.
They don't lack talent, as linebacker Von Miller has returned on the edge and is having a bounce-back season with 4.5 sacks.
Miller hasn't had the former top pick, Bradley Chubb, as his partner, but players like Malik Reed and Shelby Harris have been able to make an impact.
The Broncos might have the best linebacker in the game that not enough people are talking about, Alexander Johnson.
Currently the second-ranked linebacker by Pro Football Focus, Johnson has tied or led Denver in total tackles each of the last two seasons.
The Broncos have a deep and versatile secondary led by two former Pro Bowlers, cornerback Kyle Fuller, and free safety Justin Simmons.
Not knowing what the Raiders offense will look like under new head coach Rich Bisaccia, the Broncos' defense might actually have the advantage going into Sunday.
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