The Las Vegas Raiders are back home after a two-week stint in Cleveland and Los Angeles. Up next are the 3-5 Denver Broncos who’ve had a rough year.
The Broncos defense has been middle of the pack this season. Statistically, they’re allowing 360.4 yards per game but and 27.1 points per game. Even though the unit is missing Von Miller and Jurrell Casey, the Raiders will have to make sure these three defenders are put in check on Sunday.
1. The Raiders offensive line will have to account for Bradley Chubb
Bradley Chubb was out in 2019 after suffering an ACL tear early in the season. He got off to a slow start in 2020 but then recorded 2.5 sacks against the New York Jets in Week 4. Since then, he has added three more and is capable of tampering with the Raiders offensive game plan.
Chubb already proved himself with 12 sacks in his rookie season. This accolade helped him earn PFWA All-Rookie team honors. Even though he may fall short of repeating that, the former first-round pick is on track to register a career-high in pressures. Surprisingly, he’s doing this while actually blitzing less.
With left tackle Kolton Miller possibly missing another game, the Raiders offensive line could be in trouble. Chubb mainly attacks the left side so Brandon Parker who filled in for Miller last week will be facing a tough test. Head coach Jon Gruden might have to draw up some plays and bring a tight end to stop the edge defender from disrupting the offense.
2. Free safety Justin Simmons will be roaming in the back end
Justin Simmons is coming off an impressive 2019 season where he amassed excellent stats. He recorded a career-high four interceptions, 15 pass deflections, and was tied second in total tackles amongst the defense with 93. Alas, Simmons has been inconsistent in 2020. He has already registered three interceptions and five pass deflections. However, he is also allowing a completion percentage of 78.6, a 98.1 passer rating. To make matters worse, he has been responsible for seven touchdowns.
Most of Simmons’ negatives came from games early in the season and has gradually improved since. He will have a tall order as he will have to cover players such as Darren Waller, Nelson Agholor, and Henry Ruggs III. As we’ve seen, Carr will be more than happy to use them to slice up the defense. Nonetheless, Simmons is solid overall, so he’ll make the Raiders work for their yards.
3. Alexander Johnson could put a stop to the Silver and Black’s running game
Running the ball and controlling the time of possession has been key for the Raiders’ gameplan under Gruden. Both Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker have been playing well and the latter will likely have a heavy workload once again in Week 10.
One defender looking to stop that will be inside linebacker Alexander Johnson. The third-year undrafted player has been on the field for all but one snap this year and leads the team in tackles with 64. He will be battling a Raiders offense that averages 131.3 rushing yards per game. Right guard Gabe Jackson was put on Friday’s injury report with an illness and is currently listed as questionable. If ’66’ doesn’t suit up, his absence will open a spot for Johnson to disrupt the running game and force the Raiders offense to get more creative.
On the other hand, Johnson’s weakness this year has been the passing game. He’s already allowed more passing yards this year than 2019 with an average of 9.1 yards per completion. If the Raiders need a change of plan, look for the running backs to get involved in the passing game.
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