Denver Broncos cruise past Oakland Raiders
December 8, 2012, 12:05 am TWN
OAKLAND, California -- The Denver Broncos, their AFC West division title secure, defeated Oakland 26-13 on Thursday to notch their eighth straight NFL victory and edge toward a possible first-round playoff bye.
Peyton Manning joined Brett Favre as the only NFL quarterbacks with 5,000 career pass completions, throwing for 310 yards and a touchdown.
The resurgent NFL veteran, in his first season in Denver, completed 26-of-36 passes as the Broncos improved to 10-3. Their eight-game winning streak is the club's longest since the 1998 Broncos opened the season 13-0.
Knowshon Moreno ran for 119 yards and a score and Eric Decker recorded eight receptions in the win.
The Broncos moved a half-game ahead of New England and Baltimore for the second-best record in the American Football Conference, behind Houston.
Houston visit New England on Monday night, while injury-hit Baltimore, who own a two-game lead atop the AFC North division, open a daunting final four games against Washington and the Redskins' rookie quarterback sensation Robert Griffin III on Sunday.
Already without defensive veteran Ray Lewis, who returned to the practice field this week but won't be fit for game action until Dec. 16, the Ravens will also be missing linebacker Terrell Suggs, who tore his right biceps Sunday.
Baltimore could clinch a playoff berth with a win this weekend, but only if Pittsburgh or Cincinnati lose.
The Steelers got some good news Thursday, as coach Mike Tomlin announced that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start against the San Diego Chargers. "Big Ben" missed three games with rib and shoulder injuries.
Cincinnati, trying to earn back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in 30 years, host a Dallas Cowboys team that remains in the hunt for a wild card berth.
NFC West division leaders San Francisco will try to bounce back from an overtime loss to St. Louis when they host the struggling Miami Dolphins.
Seattle, second in the NFC West, will try to stay in touch when they host Arizona.
Green Bay, who regained a narrow lead atop the NFC North with a win over Minnesota last week along with a Chicago defeat, host a Detroit Lions team that haven't won at the Packers' Lambeau Field since 1991.
The Bears, meanwhile, visit Minnesota.
New Orleans host the reigning Super Bowl champion New York Giants, who will be trying to bounce back from a loss on Monday to NFC East division rivals Washington.
"Right now we are 7-5 and in first place in our division," said quarterback Eli Manning. "I like where we are right now. We just have to make sure we finish strong. It starts this week with the Saints game."
The Atlanta Falcons, already assured of the NFC South division title, continue their quest for the best record in the NFC when they visit the Carolina Panthers.
The Kansas City Chiefs, still getting to grips with the tragedy of linebacker Jovan Belcher — who shot and killed his girlfriend before killing himself last Saturday — visit Cleveland.
Amid the shock and grief over Belcher's actions, the Chiefs posted an improbable victory last Sunday when they beat Carolina to end an eight-game skid.
In other games, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try to rebound from back-to-back defeats when they host fading Philadelphia, Buffalo host St. Louis, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck and his Indianapolis Colts host the Tennessee Titans and the New York Jets visit Jacksonville with Mark Sanchez reinstated as starting quarterback after being benched against Arizona last week.