Denver – There is still a lot at stake.
The Broncos’ season didn’t go according to plan, and Denver (3-6) got back three games from the . 500 after a Week 10 loss to the Titans.
But with the Raiders heading to Denver for their second meeting of the season, the Broncos still have the drive to win.
After a disappointing run, the Broncos have a chance to end a five-game losing streak against the Raiders and improve after losing 11 of their last 12 division games.
In the Broncos’ first home game in a month, they will also aim to keep their modest playoff hopes alive.
Even in a match between two equal teams, no one wants to lose to a divisional opponent.
“This has been one of the greatest rivalries in football forever, I think, for 60 years[-plus] Years ago, coach Nathaniel Hackett said, “I know how important that was to the fans and the players in that room. It’s Raiders week.
“…we want to take a win, but it’s something more inspiring when you’re playing Raiders because of how great that rivalry is. … It’s great that our game has such rivalries. It’s great to see that. It doesn’t matter what your record is.” It will be a great match.”
These are the questions that will decide whether the Broncos can slip past the Raiders:
Can a slow bronco cross the MAXX?
Earlier this week, Hackett suggested that in a match between two teams with a total of 11 losses by one point, one of the two teams should win. This is true of the matchup between the Raiders pass rushers and the Broncos offensive line as well.
Las Vegas has recorded just 10 sacks through nine games, which ranks last in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Broncos’ offensive line allowed them to finish sixth in the league standings.
While the Broncos are trying to keep Russell Wilson upright with a mixture offensive line, their main task will be to slow down Maxx Crosby. The 2021 Pro Bowler has seven Raiders sacks this year; No other player has more than one. Chandler Jones, one of the Raiders’ best free agent additions, has only half a sack in nine games.
The Broncos, though, don’t have the personnel required to stop Crosby, who sacked Wilson twice in Week 4 and appeared to single-handedly destroy the Broncos’ efforts in the third quarter.
Billy Turner has become the latest offensive lineman to head to injured reserve, while Cam Fleming, Graham Glasgow and Tom Compton are all in question for Sunday’s game. Denver struggled against the Titans on pass protection – allowing six sacks – and things didn’t get any easier when rookie Luke Wattenberg was forced into the game due to a Glasgow injury.
Of course, the Broncos will help with pass protection if they can find a more consistent running game and play offense.
As Wilson showed against the Raiders in Week 4, he was effective when he had time to clear the field and turn over the ball. If the Broncos can hold their own in protection, they should be able to make it again.
Will the Broncos finish their success against the race?
The Broncos defense has been amazing in 2022 – which is why the Week 4 matchup with the Raiders stands out.
In eight of their nine games, the Broncos have scored fewer than 20 points, and have the best scoring defense in the league.
Against the Raiders, however, the Broncos gave up 32 points and struggled to contain the Las Vegas rushing offense. Former first-round draft pick Josh Jacobs seems to be saving his best when playing for the Broncos. In six games against Denver, Jacobs averaged 4.71 yards per carry, 102 yards per game and 1.5 touchdowns per game. In his career against all other teams, Jacobs averages just 4.33 yards per carry, 71.7 yards per game and 0.57 touchdowns per game.
In the Week 4 meeting, Jacobs carried the ball 28 times for 144 yards and two touchdowns—and was crucial on a late Raiders drive that took over five minutes off the clock and salted the game away.
Despite this, the Broncos showed signs in Week 10 of their rushing defense improving. Denver came into a game with Derrick Henry and the Titans allowing 122.6 rushing yards per game, which ranked 21st in the NFL. Then Denver held Henry to less than 60 yards and no touchdowns, and the team’s rushing defense jumped to 13th in the league heading into this week’s game.
Denver rushed the ball at Tennessee, and they’ll need to do the same against Jacobs. If the Broncos can hold back the physical hostility, they must force the Raiders into long, drawn-out contests — which won’t be easy to turn without many of their best weapons in the passing game.
CAN PAT SURTAIN II REPLICATE HIS PERFORMANCE IN WEEK 4?
The Raiders entered the season with a passing offense that was expected to be among the most dangerous in the NFL. In Davante Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfro, Las Vegas had a slew of guns for Derek Carr to take aim at. But the three pass-makers have played a few shots together this season, and Adams will be the only one who could be on the field on Sunday. Waller and Renfro are both on injured reserve, and Adams is a suspect after he was limited this week with an abdominal injury.
This raises the stakes for a confrontation between Adams and angler Pat Surtain II, who fights in Week 4. Adams caught nine passes for 101 yards in that game, but held only four passes for 46 yards with two navels covered, according to Pro Football Focus. Surtain followed Adams for 71 percent of his ways, and it looks like he’s going to be asked to field Adams again.
While Surtain hasn’t been tested by many teams this season, Carr and the Raiders weren’t afraid to look Surtain’s way in the first game of the year.
“Without a doubt I think it will be a great match,” Hackett said. “We saw that the last time they went after her. [They are] Two players I have a lot of respect for who are playing at an incredibly high level now. I think everyone would be excited to see these two guys go for it. I don’t think they’re afraid of being tested, and I don’t think Pat is afraid of being tested. It will be a fun match there.”
With the exception of Adams and Jacobs, the Raiders appear to have a limited number of guns. If Surtain can keep Adams in check, the Broncos defense should be able to do better in Week 4.
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