Updated: December 28, 2013 at 5:11 pm
1. The Raiders dominated this rivalry with a five-game winning streak bridging the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? The Broncos have won four straight, all by two touchdowns or more. Meanwhile, the Raiders haven't finished better than third place in the AFC West in over a decade. Yes, it's been that bad in Oakland. Given their quarterback situation, the Raiders don't appear to be getting better any time soon. How did it get this bad? Over the past 11 seasons, the Raiders have started 16 quarterbacks. In the NFL, it's all about the quarterback. And from Daunte Culpepper to Rick Mirer to Josh McCown to Bruce Gradkowski to Jason Campbell, the Raiders haven't found their guy.
2. The shortsighted will say the records don't matter, that it's only about winning the Super Bowl. But why not have both? If Peyton Manning can continue to rewrite the record book, fire away. Establish a single-season legacy that fans will remember for decades. One man's suggestion for Sunday: play Manning for as long as it takes to get the single-season passing record. Even if the Broncos jump ahead by three touchdowns, don't yank him until he's thrown for 266 yards. That would give him 5,477 this season - a new NFL record, surpassing Drew Brees' historic campaign in 2011. Then Manning would have the most touchdowns and most yards in a season. Then, if the Broncos win the Super Bowl, no one can argue whether Manning had the greatest season for a quarterback in NFL history. It's right there, in the record book.
3. In regards to the playoff picture, here's the good news for the Broncos: Denver can't fall lower than the No. 2 seed. The Broncos will host a divisional playoff game, regardless of Sunday's results. In the best-case scenario, the Broncos would avoid the Chargers or Chiefs in the first playoff game. Does anyone really want to see Philip Rivers or Jamaal Charles one more time? I'd like to see the Ravens again. A rematch of the Mile High Mistake would make for memorable theater, and Baltimore hardly has looked like a world-beater in recent weeks. What better way to exorcise the demons of Jan. 12, 2013, than a Ravens rematch on Jan. 12, 2014?