The Las Vegas Raiders are coming off the first of three pivotal division matchups. They will now continue their gauntlet of a schedule against another AFC west foe, and one we are all very huge fans of.
The Raiders head into the game looking to stay perfect in the division while chasing the defending Super Bowl champions, so this matchup against the Broncos is another “must-win”. All divisional games are, but to earn the wild card spot, or to even move up in the positioning, the Silver and Black need to capture their second win at their new desert home. With that, here are the three keys to a Raiders win this Sunday.
The Raiders must pressure Drew Lock
This seems like a simple task, but it’s one the Raider’s defense has had a hard time doing. The unit may have an easier time against quarterback Drew Lock. The sophomore has thrown the same amount of touchdowns as picks, six, in 2020. His completion percentage sits at 56.5% and he is susceptible to making questionable decisions.
If the Raiders can load the box, and control the line of scrimmage, Lock could be at the whims of one Mad Maxx and the surging Clelin Ferrell. The Broncos offensive line ranks 21st in sacks allowed with 21. The improvements of the defensive line promised with the addition of Rod Marinelli could finally come to fruition this week.
Dominate the second half
The Broncos have been trailing at halftime in six of their last seven games. That trend could continue, knowing that the Raiders offense is no longer stagnant in the second half as it was last season. On the other hand, the Broncos have had their fair share of second-half comebacks so the Raiders shouldn’t get too cocky.
Even though they ended up losing, the Broncos were competitive against teams like the Steelers, Chargers, whose record does not reflect their talent, and Atlanta, who is on a surge after the firing of head coach Dan Quinn. The Raiders need to make strong second-half adjustments. Also, they have to keep the Broncos off the field, as they did against the Browns. Dominating the second half will be paramount for a win in the desert.
Continue to establish the run game
It is no secret that the Raiders offense flows through the run game. However, the Broncos front seven. present a tough matchup. Although the Broncos defense is allowing 119 rushing yards per game, the unit is nothing to sleep on. Led by Vic Fangio, who is considered one of the smarter defensive minds in the NFL, the Raiders will have to bully their front seven, just as they have done this year, even with the continuing rotation at offensive line. Running back Josh Jacobs needs to have another big game, and the Raiders must control the time of possession.
Keep in mind the Raider placed Cory Littleton on the reserve/COVID-19 list this week. Thus, Raekwon McMillan and Nicholas Morrow will be getting more playing time. The Raiders’ depth will be tested this upcoming Sunday for this crucial AFC west battle.
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Top Photo: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press