In order to win in Week 17 and capture the AFC West crown, the Oakland Raiders need their tight ends to step up against the Denver Broncos.
The Oakland Raiders are turning to Matt McGloin with the division title on the line, due to the Week 16 injury to Derek Carr. Having McGloin under center means Oakland’s tight ends will get plenty of looks against Denver, in what should be a favorable matchup for the Silver and Black.
The Broncos have been dealing with injuries to their front seven all season long, and this upcoming game will be no different. Derek Wolfe and DeMarcus Ware will not be playing, and neither will T.J. Ward. This could mean a big day for both Clive Walford and Mychal Rivera.
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At first glance the numbers for the Raiders two primary tight ends this year might not be jaw dropping — Walford has 32 receptions for 342 yards and 3 TDs and Rivera has 16 receptions for 183 yards and 1 TD — but with the insertion of McGloin into the starting role, these two will be playing a bigger role starting on Sunday.
Despite having Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper at his disposal, McGloin has been shown to favor tight ends in the past. In fact, Rivera was one of the most reliable targets last time McGloin was starting back 2013.
While the Broncos have been hit hard by the injury bug this season, they won’t simply pack it in before the game. Let’s not forget Von Miller will be looking to strike early and often, so don’t be surprised if McGloin plays it safe and uses the short pass to the tight ends.
Assuming the Raiders offensive line continues its dominant play, there is no reason the Raiders quarterback should find his targets. With Denver’s defensive backs having a lot on their plates with worrying on how to contain the wide receiver corps, it’s safe to say that the tight ends are primed for a quality performance.