Aging Raiders face Denver

Cox News Service

ATLANTA -- Tonight's; game pits the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders. Consider it a meeting of Maybe Back on Top vs. Maybe Too Late.

First, the Raiders. After falling to the Tennessee Titans in the first week, they returned home and beat the Cincinnati Bengals -- barely.

It appears that receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown are having trouble getting open -- they averaged a combined 133.8 receiving yards per game last season; it's now 38.5. Quarterback Rich Gannon believes that the team is having trouble incorporating a lot of new pieces, like rookie tight end Teyo Johnson and rookie running back Justin Fargas.

The easy answer is that the Raiders are getting old: Rice is 40, Brown and Gannon are 37, and safety Rod Woodson, out recovering from knee surgery, is 38. Naturally, Oakland insists it isn't the case.


Even if it isn't the problem now, the clock is ticking. Oakland is 1-1. Two other AFC West teams, Denver and the Kansas City Chiefs, are 2-0. (The Chiefs play the Houston Texans today.) A Raiders loss wouldn't be a death knell, but it wouldn't be balloons and ice cream, either.

"This will probably be their last year, because I think (offensive tackle) Lincoln Kennedy might retire and you don't know how long Jerry Rice and Tim Brown are going to keep going," said New Orleans Saints defensive tackle and ex-Raider Grady Jackson. "They've got a great team, but Father Time is setting in."

Meanwhile, the Broncos have plowed through their first two opponents by a combined 67-23.

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