Broncos (2-1) at Raiders (0-3)
When: 2:25 p.m. MT, Sunday
Where: Allegiant Stadium.
Radio/TV: 850 AM, 94.1 FM/CBS
Broncos-Raiders series: Broncos are 53-68-2 in 123 regular-season games dating back to 1960; the Broncos have lost four in a row in the rivalry series, including a 17-13 defeat on Dec. 26 of last year at Allegiant Stadium.
Broncos tackles vs Raiders defensive ends
Broncos left tackle Garett Bolles and right tackle Cam Fleming will have their hands full containing two of the Raiders’ premier playmakers — defensive ends Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
Fleming will be tasked with blocking Crosby most of the game, and Bolles on Jones. The Raiders’ duo has combined for five Pro Bowl appearances, and Crosby has two sacks this year while Jones has been shut out.
As Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett pointed out, the sack numbers so far don’t do justice to the impact Crosby and Jones could have Sunday if the Broncos don’t block them consistently.
“I was with Chandler when we were together at Syracuse a long time ago,” Hackett said. “He’s a spectacular player, he’s very fluid… Crosby has slowly, slowly become a dominant player in this league, also. We’re going against a good pass rush on the edge, so it’s going to be a great challenge for our tackles and it’s not just about the tackles, it’s about everybody.”
Bolles, Denver’s first-round pick in 2017 at No. 20 overall, has emerged as one of the league’s top left tackles. After battling the 49ers’ Nick Bosa last week, he now must contain Jones, who has 107.5 career sacks across 11 seasons.
Meanwhile, with Billy Tuner still not ready to make his season debut (knee), Fleming gets another start at right tackle. If Fleming can’t keep Crosby in check, it could be a long day for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Who has the edge?
Russell Wilson finally found his mojo in the fourth quarter of the Broncos’ squeaker win over the 49ers last week, but he still hasn’t played like an elite QB. Derek Carr has thrown six touchdowns but also four interceptions during the Raiders’ poor start. Edge: Even
The combination of Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon hasn’t taken over a game yet, but it could happen at any time. The Raiders’ Josh Jacobs doesn’t have a TD yet, but he’s already burned Denver for two 100-yard games at home in his career. Edge: Even
Courtland Sutton is balling, but Jerry Jeudy’s been quiet since Week 1 and KJ Hamler/Albert Okwuegbunam have been non-factors. Las Vegas has Pro Bowlers in WR Davante Adams and TE Darren Waller; WR Hunter Renfrow (concussion) is doubtful. Edge: Raiders
The Broncos O-line was good through two games, then took a step back last week. Cam Fleming starts again at right tackle for Billy Turner (knee). Quinn Meinerz (hamstring) is out again at right guard. Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller is dealing with an ankle injury. Edge: Broncos
Nose D.J. Jones cleared concussion protocol this week and questionable. Even if he plays, Dre’Mont Jones, Mike Purcell and DeShawn Williams need to step up even more. The Raiders feature the Pro Bowl tandem of Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby. Edge: Raiders
Josey Jewell flexed submitted a gem in his season debut last week, while Randy Gregory and Bradley Chubb are starting to develop serious chemistry on the edges. The Raiders’ Denzel Perryman is dealing with an ankle injury; Divine Deablo is their leading tackler. Edge: Broncos
Justin Simmons is still on injured reserve with a quad injury, but cornerbacks Pat Surtain II and Ronald Darby are playing at a high level. The Raiders are dealing with injuries but feature safety Johnathan Abram, who can change a game at any moment. Edge: Broncos
Montrell Washington is still searching for a breakout moment in the return game, but with his speed, fans can be optimistic. Brandon McManus hasn’t missed from inside 50; Corliss Waitman has improved. Colorado Springs’ Daniel Carlson is the home kicker. Edge: Even
Tale of the tape
|Total offense||348 (16th)||346.7 (17th)|
|Rush offense||117.7 (12th)||80 (28th)|
|Pass offense||230.3 (18th)||266.7 (7th)|
|Points per game||14.3 (31st)||21.3 (T-10th)|
|Total defense||251.3 (3rd)||376.3 (21st)|
|Run defense||81.3 (T-6th)||109.3 (T-15th)|
|Pass defense||170 (3rd)||267 (26th)|
|Points allowed||12 (2nd)||25.7 (T-24th)|
* Through Week 4
By the numbers
51 — The amount of receiving yards Courtland Sutton needs to become the third-fastest Broncos wideout to hit the 3,000-yard career milestone behind Demaryius Thomas (46 games) and Brandon Marshall (49). Sunday is Sutton’s 54th career game.
198 — How many passing yards Russell Wilson needs to become the sixth active NFL QB to reach the 38,000 mark.
1 — Wilson’s interceptions through three games, which is tied for the best in the NFL among starters.
10 — How many fumbles Randy Gregory has forced since 2018, tied for fifth in the NFL during that span. The edge rusher has two this year.
9 — The number of total defensive snaps that the Broncos top draft pick this year, second-round selection Nik Bonitto, has played so far.
Line: Broncos +2.5
Underdogs for a second straight game and rightfully so. Despite the Raiders’ early woes, Denver’s offense has stunk in two games in Sin City so far. Bet on the Broncos to play better in their third showing at Allegiant Stadium to at least cover, which their defense should help them do.
Prop bet: Over/under 45 points
Bet the under. Neither offense has been in sync so far, and the performance by the Broncos defense last week against San Francisco was no fluke. Factor in home field advantage helping tilt the odds in favor of the Las Vegas D, and it sets up to be a limited offensive day.
Mark Kiszla, columnist: Raiders 16, Broncos 14
Not saying the Broncos’ offense would be more dangerous if Chad Powers was the starting quarterback, but it might be more entertaining than the 1-2-3-kick dance of Russell Wilson. And not suggesting Josh McDaniels has grown up as a football coach since his days in Denver, but if Kid McD knows anything, it’s how to give Broncos Country a bad case of heartburn.
Kyle Newman, beat writer: Broncos 17, Raiders 13
The Denver defense turns in another memorable performance and Javonte Williams goes over the 100-yard mark for the first time this year. Those variables, plus a key fourth-quarter interception by Pat Surtain II and another big game from the edge-rushing duo of Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory, give the Broncos a win in the divisional opener.
Parker Gabriel, beat writer: Broncos 20, Raiders 17
The Broncos are road underdogs, have lost four straight to the Raiders and haven’t scored more than 16 points in a game this season. Not only that, but at 0-3, Las Vegas is facing as close to a must-win as there is in Week 4. Denver’s defense is playing well, though, and that might just be enough.
Sean Keeler, columnist: Raiders 21, Broncos 17
Vegas is too talented to be 0-3, but Raiduhs gonna Raiduh. From the playoffs to 0-4 in the AFC is virtually impossible, though, so it’s a backs-against-the-wall tilt vs. a franchise they’ve feasted on. On the bright side, a Raiduhs win at least assures Broncos Country a chance to boo Josh McDaniels in person on Nov. 20. Probably.
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