Raiders vs broncos
Graphic Credit: KLAS-TV

 

FSM Game Preview: Raiders vs Broncos – Week 6

Franchise Sports Media

 

The Las Vegas Raiders will be on the road facing the Denver Broncos Sunday and will have a new head coach leading them after a rough week.

 

Raiders vs Broncos
Photo Credit: ESPN

The Las Vegas Raiders have a lot going on right now and not in a good way. They have lost two games in a row to fall to 3-2 on the season. What was the league’s number one offense has struggled to get going, and now they will have a new head coach leading them the rest of the season as Jon Gruden has stepped down due to the controversy from emails he sent in the past.

Since last Friday, emails from 2010-2018 surfaced sent from the former Raiders head coach to Bruce Allen, who at the time was the Washington Football Team’s president. In the emails, Gruden used sexist, homophobic, and transphobic language, according to a report from The New York Times.

League officials uncovered the emails as part of a workplace misconduct investigation into Allen. They were not focused specifically on Gruden, who was not in the league at the time. He had already come under fire for using an apparently racist trope against NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to Allen. Gruden at the time was serving as a color analyst on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

Ironically, during this week’s “Monday Night Football” game and shortly after the New York Times released its report, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Gruden had informed his team he would resign as head coach.

A short time later, assistant coach Rich Bisaccia was named the team’s interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

With the change at head coach, the team must focus on the task at hand as they are on the road to face division rival the Denver Broncos. Both teams started off 3-0 and both have dropped their last two games, so a win for either squad is in high order. The Raiders lead the overall series vs the Broncos 67-54-2.

 

Can the Raiders get back on track and block the distractions to get back in the win column?

 

Raiders vs Broncos
Photo Credit: Getty Images

You never want to see these things happen once the season is underway. But, unfortunately, changes are made and teams have to adjust and remain focused on the task at hand, winning football games. Victory’s in the NFL don’t come easy, especially when you play within your division as teams and coaches know each other better due to playing one another twice a year.

But the Raiders will look to rally around one another, interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, and do what they must on the field in hopes of snapping this two-game skid. The team’s offense has struggled to get out the gate early. In their two defeats the offenses slow start put them in holes, they were unable to climb out of. So a fast start will be crucial for this team to build momentum and stay in the game all four quarters.

While the offense has struggled, the defense has had its moments as they continually cause a distraction in the backfield to opposing quarterbacks. The secondary, despite its injuries, has held up fairly well in not allowing big catches down the field. But still, one side of the ball can’t be asked to carry the team while the other can’t get its feet out of the mud.

 

How can the Raiders get back on track offensively?

 

Raiders vs Broncos
Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Raiders have to get their top receiver, tight end Darren Waller, more involved in the game. Far too often he goes stretches without seeing passes thrown his way. Now, that’s not to say teams aren’t doubling or triple-teaming him, but that’s one the coaches have to design plays to help free him up and be able to use his talents to help this offense be as explosive they were to the start of the season.

Since week 1, Waller has only gone over 55 yards receiving once in the last four games. In that one game, he only had 45 yards. That’s not going to cut it. If the Raiders can spring Waller open and get him going, it’ll open up the field for other receivers to make plays and also help with the run game which has also struggled to get the ball moving.

The big concern every week for the Raiders will be how does their offensive line hold up? Last week the team looked to shake things up a bit by sliding rookie right tackle Alex Leatherwood inside to right guard and promoting backup Brandon Parker to start at right tackle. Hoping this will help the Raiders get the ball moving on the ground and provide some added protection for Derek Carr, to do so against one of the league’s top defensive fronts was a hard task to judge.

It won’t get easier as they face another stout front in the Broncos, but if the line can find some consistent play and remain healthy, Carr has shown he can get the ball to his receivers and keep this team moving up and down the field. The new-look line may also be able to help running back Josh Jacobs get things going as he hasn’t had over 50 yards rushing yet on the season. Now he has been hampered by injuries, so hopefully, he can be back to his old ways of being the dynamic runner for the Silver and Black.

If this team can get back on track offensively, we’ve seen them be able to put points up against anyone, as well as lead the league in offense.

 

This matchup against the Broncos will be won or lost at the line of scrimmage.

 

Raiders vs Broncos
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste/Franchise Sports Media

With the Raiders needing to get back on track, the Broncos also need to do the same. Denver has also dropped their last two games after going 3-0 to start the season. With Von Miller looking back to his All-Pro ways (4.5 sacks on the season so far). The Broncos have a steady rushing attack with both their running backs Melvin Gordon, and rookie Javonte Williams. Both get almost the same amount of carries (Gordon-60, Williams-54).

The Raiders’ defensive line will need to contain the rushing attack and not allow the Broncos to rattle off yards carry after carry. The Raiders have gotten solid play out of Quinton Jefferson and Johnathan Hankins in the middle of their defensive line, and rotation players Darius Philon and Solomon Thomas have provided consistent play when they are put in as well. This play from their interior lineman has been a big reason the Raiders’ defensive front has shinned the way it has so far this season. Yes, Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are flat-out studs at defensive end, but to have the production from the middle allows for the edge rushers to not see as many double teams. That has allowed for the Raiders front to consistently find themselves applying pressure on the opposing team’s quarterbacks.

The secondary will be tested as Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has only thrown one interception on the season. He has two wide receivers in Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick who each has over 300 yards receiving on the season. With Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette placed on Injured Reserve, young cornerbacks Amik Robertson and Nate Hobbs will be asked to step up and make plays. We saw Robertson get picked on often against the Bears so he’ll need to make adjustments and be ready for the Broncos to try the same approach.

 

Raiders vs Broncos
Photo Credit: Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders continue to get solid production from their linebackers Denzel Perryman who leads the team in tackles with Corey Littleton second on the team. Hybrid safety/linebacker Johnathan Abram is third on the team in tackles and playing really well in his new roles. Perryman and Abram bring the boom when they hit, Abram nearly knocked Justin Fields out of the game last week with a thunderous open-field tackle. So when these two zero in on the ball carrier, look out cause the boom is coming.

This unit will be relied on to help control the rushing attack, but they will also look to keep the short-yard passing attack in front of them and not give up the big run after the catch. If this group continues to bring the energy and make plays, the defensive front will find their way in the backfield, and the secondary will make plays. All this put together should hopefully result in a Raiders win.

This is a heated rivalry between the two organizations, so not just a win, but a win against the other would be a cherry on top. Can Carr get back to looking like an MVP candidate? Will Waller be able to find room to make plays and show why he’s among the best at his position? Will the defense be able to make plays and not allow the Broncos’ offense to get going? All these questions and more will be answered when the Raiders play the Broncos on Sunday afternoon.

 

The Raiders and Broncos play Sunday at 1:25 at Empower Field and can be seen on CBS.

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-Kalani Lua – Franchise Sports Media

Follow Kalani on Twitter @klua11

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