At one point not long ago, eyeing the Oakland Raiders as Super Bowl contenders wasn’t far-fetched. After the injury to Derek Carr, though, that’s no longer the case. Even still, they’re in the playoffs and can lock up the AFC West in Week 17. All they need to do is head to Sports Authority Field at Mile High and top the Denver Broncos.
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Matt McGloin gets the start for the Raiders in this game with Carr out. He certainly won’t be asked to do too much as Latavius Murray should see a heavy workload. More importantly, though, the Raiders need their defense to step up now and in the postseason to be successful without their MVP-candidate at quarterback.
Then you have the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Broncos. Denver has been eliminated from the postseason and is now just playing for pride and to ruin the end of the year for the Raiders. Given how they’ve looked of late, though, it’s hard to say they’ll be able to do even that.
As stated, the first key for the Raiders in this game is to get their defense at top-gear right from kickoff. At their best, Khalil Mack and company have been pass-rush monsters and ball-hawks. But they’ve been saloon doors at their worst. They need to be at their best with McGloin running the offense to help alleviate pressure on the backup. In that same light, Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington getting the offense moving with the run game will be huge. Not only will it obviously move the ball, but will keep McGloin a bit more clean moving forward.
Then you have the Broncos. For them, obviously they’d love to force McGloin into turnovers and mistakes. Even with unrest in the organization and locker room, their pass defense remains fierce. They can make life hard for the Raiders backup. But even still, they truly need Trevor Siemian to make plays. The Broncos quarterback has regressed as the year’s gone on to being near un-usable as a starter in this league. That has to change, even if that’s a tall task.
Call me crazy, but I think the Raiders win here to clinch the AFC West. With reports of Gary Kubiak possibly leaving and what we’ve seen from Denver lately, there’s something broken with the Broncos right now. Subsequently, I think the Oakland defense comes to life and leads the way to a gritty victory on the road.