Finally, after dealing with one of the craziest drama-filled weeks in Oakland Raiders history, Raider Nation can settle down Monday night to watch some football. The Raiders will host the Denver Broncos at the Coliseum for the last time ever, and this will be a great test to show just how improved this squad is.
Teams: Denver Broncos (0-0) @ Oakland Raiders (0-0)
Time: 7:20 PM
Venue: Oakland Coliseum
TV/Radio: ESPN, Raiders Radio Network
With the departure of Antonio Brown, how will the Raiders’ receiving corps hold up?
Even without Brown, the receiving corps is still an improvement over last year’s, although losing AB really hurts this group. Tyrell Williams was brought in to be a nice compliment to Brown, with Hunter Renfrow sliding in as the slot receiver. Williams is now thrust into the #1 role, and players like Renfrow and JJ Nelson will be forced to seriously step up this year. Chris Harris is a very good corner, and he’ll likely be matched up with Tyrell all game, which doesn’t do the Raiders any favors either.
Which version of Derek Carr will we see?
If this team wants to have any success Monday night, or the rest of the year, it starts and ends with Carr. Tyrell Williams is one of the best deep-ball threats in the league, and that’s something to pay attention to as Carr should be looking to take more shots down the field. Hunter Renfrow is going to serve as a terrific security blanket for Carr, and Josh Jacobs should open up the run game. However, as we’ve seen with Carr before, the most important thing to his success is his protection. Which leads me to my next point…
What will this line look under Tom Cable, what kind of impact will we see from Trent Brown?
Cable is easily the most-maligned coach on this staff, and there’s a reason for that criticism. Cable’s O-lines have repeatedly been among the worst in the NFL, and that’s something that’s going to have to improve for the Raiders to win games this year. The Raiders gave Trent Brown BIG money this offseason (BIG = $66 million), and I’m very interested to see how he looks under Cable’s coaching, and what kind of impact he makes.
Tyrell Williams Vs. Chris Harris Jr.
The Broncos Defense is no joke, and Chris Harris Jr. is one of its key players. This won’t be an easy matchup for Williams, who has suddenly been pushed into the WR1 role, but it’s one that must go in the Raiders’ favor Monday night. Williams needs to play well, or else Hunter Renfrow and JJ Nelson will be forced to carry the load, which doesn’t sound like a recipe for success against this stout Denver defense.
Kolton Miller & Trent Brown Vs. Von Miller & Bradley Chubb
This might be the most important matchup of the night. If Oakland wants to have any offensive success, these two excellent Denver pass-rushers MUST be contained. For the passing attack to work, Carr is going to need time, and that starts with Miller and Chubb being non-factors. Josh Jacobs likely won’t be able to carry the offense in his first career game, and in order for Carr to succeed, Miller and Brown will need to play well.
Raiders Pass Rush Vs. Broncos OL
The Broncos D-line wasn’t special by any means last year, but we already know how bad the Raiders D-line was. I know it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse, but if the Raiders defense is gonna play well, it starts with the pass rush. Clelin Ferrell will be very interesting to watch in his first NFL game, and Arden Key will be looking to improve in his sophomore season. Hurst had an impressive rookie season, and him getting internal pressure on Monday will be vital to this defense’s performance. If Oakland can get consistent pressure on Flacco, it will do wonders for Conley, Joyner, Joseph, and the rest of the secondary.
I don’t expect the Raiders offense to do much after losing their best player two days before the opener, but I don’t expect Joe Flacco to play well either. Phillip Lindsey should have a good game, but Flacco left much to be desired last year, and he doesn’t have many weapons on offense. The Broncos defense is their strong suit, but I think the Raiders offense will be just good enough to get the win. Josh Jacobs has a good NFL debut, and Miller and Brown protect Carr well enough. The Raiders get a close win at home, and carry some momentum into a short week against Kansas City.