Raiders vs Chiefs
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New FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Broncos – Week 4

Las Vegas Raiders (0-3) | Denver Broncos (2-1)

Franchise Sports Media

 

Combining irony with urgency, 0-3 Las Vegas welcomes McDaniels’ former team and division rival, the Denver Broncos. Will this light Raider Nation’s fire?

 

Raiders vs Broncos
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

When Frodo Baggins was tasked with crossing a war field of Orcs en route to Mt. Doom’s fiery peak in his efforts to destroy the Ring of Power, he must have felt a significant level of discouragement. However, with help from circumstances unseen, that little Hobbit was able to complete his mission against all odds.

The Las Vegas Raiders are now in that same position of staring up at the peak of Mt. Doom. Through three weeks, the Silver & Black have suffered three gut-retching losses. All of them with chances to win.

However, as deflating as 0-3 seems (and it is), there may actually be a path through the field of Orcs and into the NFL postseason; The Chargers are unwisely sending out their rocket-arm franchise QB every week despite a notable rib injury, there seems to be trouble in K.C. between Mahomes and OC Eric Bieniemy after a loss in Indy, all while the Raiders’ next opponent (Denver) has largely looked like a bottom-5 team in the league.

Sure, the Denver Broncos have somehow played to a 2-1 record under new signal-caller Russell Wilson, but it may in fact be the ugliest 2-1 in the history of football. After losing the season opener in Seattle (a game that also served as Wilson’s homecoming) to a Geno Smith led Seahawks team, Denver struggled mightily with the Texans before pulling a rabbit out of the hat against the 49ers (by now, everyone has seen Jimmy Garappolo’s best “Dan Orlovsky” impression).

With an effete offense, the Broncos have yet to score more than 16 points in any contest this season. Their defense warrants respect, but Carr and other members of the Raiders’ offense have positive familiarity going against the Ponies. Not to sound like a broken record, but this is another very winnable game for Las Vegas. Let’s dive in …

As always, check the 53-man roster before diving into this week’s preview. After all, it’s only Week 4, but Raider Nation will operate with a sense of urgency the rest of the way; Ya gotta love the NFL!

For the record, the Raiders and Broncos have faced off head-to-head 125 times (incl. two playoff games), with the Silver & Black going 69-54-2. The Raiders have also won the last four consecutive games against Denver.

 

Previous contests

HOF game: Raiders 27 – Jaguars 11
PRE1: Raiders 26 – Vikings 20
PRE2: Raiders 15 – Dolphins 13

PRE3: Raiders 23 – Patriots 6

WK1: Chargers 24 – Raiders 19 (L)
WK2: Cardinals 29 – Raiders 23 (OT)/(L)
WK3: Titans 24 – Raiders 22 (L)

 

KEYS TO THE GAME:

 

Don’t let Russ cook; Serve him a plate

Another rival of the Raiders, the San Francisco 49ers, demonstrated a clear-cut method to shutting down Denver’s offense last week: Get in Wilson’s face early and often. Wilson, a strong eventual candidate for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has his limitations. Given his shorter stature, his progression can easily be disrupted by a relentless pass rush (*cough*Chandler Jones time*cough*). Also, reinforcements may be on the way for the Silver & Black LB Denzel Perryman, and S Tre’von Moehrig practiced in limited roles on Wednesday. 

Given the Broncos’ own lack of production on the O-line, Wilson has already been sacked nine times this season, which leaves him in the top-third (most) of the NFL. This is strongly correlated to the fact that Denver has only scored three touchdowns on the year (dead-last). Additionally, Russ is just not as shifty as he once was. However, the harassment must be consistent–We should all be aware that Wilson can still get in the zone and take over a game.

 

Continue to keep Carr upright

Raiders vs Broncos
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

After being sacked five times in the opening game against the Chargers, Carr has only been dropped for a loss once in each of the following weeks. Yes, there has been consistent pressure, but such are trials of the National Football League. Andre James (concussion) is slated to return to his center spot, which should allow Parham to slide back to guard. Eluemunor and Munford will again be challenged with anchoring down the right side. Ideally, a frontrunner emerges there.

Whatever offensive line combination is out there for Las Vegas will have an arduous task ahead; Denver’s strongest unit is likely their defensive front. In the tackle box, you’ll run into sluggers like OLB Bradley Chubb, MLB Alex Singleton, and DE Dre’Mont Jones (among others). Carr and his cast of skill players should do their best to avoid those names. NOTE: LT Kolton Miller (ankle) was limited in practice this week. His game day status will be paramount against Denver’s pass rush unit.

 

4Q: Get Davante the ball

This can be made as simple or complex as you’d like to get; After all, there’s pretty much nothing Davante Adams cannot do from the WR position. What’s unacceptable, however, is Adams only having two fourth quarter receptions through three weeks of play. Even worse, he has been shutout each of the previous two 4Qs (vs. ARZ & TEN), despite lining up for 98% of the offensive snaps (on average). This week, he’ll likely match up with Broncos’ CB Pat Surtain II, which will make for a premiere battle. Staying in Denver’s defensive backfield, S Justin Simmons is still on the IR (fortunately for the Raiders).

Adams‘ 4Q production actually shows his highest target rate (10 tgts) of any quarter, but contrarily, his lowest catch rate (20%). I understand that Adams will always be the emphasis of opposing defenses, particularly late in the game, but there is no excuse for allowing him to disappear. Remember, Adams can thrive in the slot as well, or lining him up in a bunch/arrow formation with Waller and Hollins presents a multitude of options. Just get 17 the ball, especially when the game is on the line.

 

Coaching matchup

Obviously McDaniels is still going through growing pains of his own, but I would still give him an edge over the Broncos’ first-year HC Nathaniel Hackett. For the sake of irony alone, considering McDaniels’ unsuccessful tenure in Denver,  this matchup will be one to watch. Despite being 2-1, Hackett and the Broncos have already been subject to heavy speculation, especially pertaining to Wilson and the offense’s lack of production, as well as 4Q clock management. Yet, it is McDaniels who enters Week 4 as the only 0-3 head coach. Still, a return to the Death Star should serve the Raiders well on Sunday. McDaniels and co. should be the hungrier side.

 

INJURY REPORT:

Below are Thursday’s (Sept. 29) practice participation sheets for the Raiders and Broncos …

Las Vegas – DT Nick Farrell (Full – Shoulder), DT Johnathan Hankins (Limited – Groin), CB Nate Hobbs (Limited – Concussion), C Andre James (Full – Concussion), LT Kolton Miller (Limited – Ankle), S Tre’von Moehrig (Limited – Hip), TE Foster Moreau (DNP – Knee), DT Bilal Nichols (Limited – Shoulder), LB Denzel Perryman (Limited – Ankle), WR Hunter Renfrow (DNP – Concussion), CB Rock Ya-Sin (Limited – Knee), CB Sam Webb (Limited – Hamstring).

Denver – WR Tyrie Cleveland (DNP – Hamstring), OLB Jonathon Cooper (DNP – Hamstring), OLB Randy Gregory (Limited – Knee), DT D.J. Jones (DNP – Concussion), CB Darius Phillips (DNP – Hamstring), G Dalton Risner (Limited – Ankle), OL Billy Turner (DNP – Knee), OLB Baron Browining (Full – Knee), RB Melvin Gordon III (Limited – Neck), S P.J. Locke (Full – Ankle), OL Quinn Meinerz (Limited – Hamstring), OLB Aaron Patrick (Full – Shoulder), DL Mike Purcell (Limited – Neck), S Caden Sterns (Limited – Hip), CB K’waun Williams (Full – Wrist).


WEATHER REPORT:

 

The Death Star (aka Allegiant Stadium) is a covered venue and climate-controlled. Outside on the streets of Paradise, Nevada, Sunday’s weather will reflect that namesake: 91 degrees and mostly sunny.

 

The Raiders are back home at The Death Star this weekend for a divisional clash against the rival-Denver Broncos, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25 pm PST and can be seen locally on Fox 5 (radio play-by-play on RNR AM920).

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-Gabe Santiago – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Gabe on Twitter & Instagram at @gps_onthemic

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