The 3-6 Denver Broncos will host their hated divisional rival, the Las Vegas Raiders who are 2-7 later this afternoon. Both teams entered the season with high expectations after acquiring two-star players. As we know, the Broncos acquired quarterback Russell Wilson while the Raiders acquired star wide receiver, Davante Adams. Unfortunately for both teams, neither addition has resulted in more wins this season.
Earlier this season, the Raiders defeated the Broncos by the score of 32-23. This gave Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels his first win with the team. Unfortunately, this had to come against the Broncos, the team ran into the ground and was fired from because of a cheating scandal. Now, the Broncos will look to avoid being swept by their former Head Coach.
With all that said, I am going to give you five things to watch during this afternoon’s AFC West divisional matchup.
1. Don’t get swept by Josh McDaniels and the Raiders
The Raiders are bad. Like, bad bad. However, so are the Broncos, and they already lost to the Raiders once this season. Both teams have Head Coaches on the hot seat and this game could go a long way toward deciding the fate of both of them.
Reports came out this week that the Raiders want to move on from McDaniels, but do not have the money to do so. However, Raiders owner Mark Davis has publicly stated that McDaniels would be back for next season, so we shall see how it goes.
As for the Broncos, Nathaniel Hackett has not been given that sort of reassurance and losing to the Raiders again, and being swept by them, could be it for the first-year Head Coach. Nothing official has been said, but a loss would only make his already hot seat, even hotter.
Losing to the Raiders is never good, but I think Hackett may be coaching for his job in this one.
2. Stop Josh Jacobs
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs has routinely done well against the Broncos, and he did just that in week four. In that game, Jacobs ran the ball 28 times for 144 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. He also caught five balls for 31 yards as well. On the year, Jacobs rushed for 821 yards, 7 touchdowns, and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. He also has 31 receptions for 200 yards. So, we should see a healthy dose of Jacobs once again today.
Josh Jacobs making the Broncos defense look lousy.
Feels like I’ve seen this opera before.
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) October 2, 2022
The Broncos’ run defense has had its issues at times this season, but it is coming off a game where they slowed down the NFL’s leading rusher, Derrick Henry. So, we shall see which Broncos run defense we get in this one, but if they struggle again in this one, it could be a long day for them.
What should help the Broncos’ chances, is that Jacobs has been struggling recently on the ground. He hasn’t rushed for more than 78 yards in the past three games and had a yards per carry under four yards in two of the three of those games. So, maybe the Broncos are catching Jacobs at the right time, or maybe he’s due for a breakout game against a team he routinely does well against.
3. Will the young receivers step up?
The Broncos will be down wide receivers Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in this one. This is bad news for an already struggling offense that is near the bottom in every offensive statistical category. In their place, the Broncos will need some of their young receivers to step up and produce for them.
Per source, Broncos are elevating WR Brandon Johnson from practice squad to game-day roster Sunday vs Raiders. Charles Johnson’s (the catcher) to make his NFL debut. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) November 19, 2022
Look for Hall Of Famer Kendall Hinton to get the start in this one opposite of Courtland Sutton, but he was on the injured list all week with a shoulder injury. So, how effective he can be in this one remains to be seen.
We saw undrafted rookie speedster Jalen Virgil make a big play last week, and he will be counted on again today to make a few plays as well. Fellow undrafted rookie Brandon Johnson is expected to make his NFL debut in this one as well. He was having a strong summer before suffering an injury in the preseason finale which cost him a roster spot. He recently rejoined the practice squad and will now make his regular-season debut.
The Broncos offense has struggled all year and now will be relying on two undrafted rookies to make some plays. The Raiders’ defense has been bad, so we could see them step up. For the Broncos’ sake, they will need them to step up and make some big plays.
4. Will the Broncos be able to block Maxx Crosby?
The Raiders’ defense has been bad this year, but one player has stood out and has been putting up defensive player of the year type of play all season. That player being defensive end, Maxx Crosby.
As we saw last week, the Broncos had issues protecting quarterback Russell Wilson, and well, with blocking in general. So, in this one, they figure to have their hands full with Crosby who should be a menace whenever he is out there.
As for the rest of the Raiders’ defense, they haven’t been able to get after the quarterback very well this season. So, we have a team who has struggled with protection while the other has struggled with applying pressure. Which teams weakness will win out in this one?
5. Before Adams vs. Patrick Surtain II
The best matchup in this one will be between stud wide receiver Davante Adams and the top cornerback in the league, Patrick Surtain II. The two matched up earlier in the season, and when covered by Surtain II, he held Adams in check.
Adams did finish this game with 9 receptions for 101 yards, but the majority of his production came against defensive backs not named Patrick Surtain II. The Raiders figure to target Adams early and often in this one, so Surtain II will be needed once again to shut him down while covering him.
I would expect the Raiders to move Adams around in this one to move Surtain off him and go against one of the other Broncos’ defensive backs. It will be interesting to see how it plays out, but the Broncos will need to slow down Adams and Jacobs if they want to win this one.