Davante Adams #17 of the Las Vegas Raiders (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) vs Broncos

Alex’s Pivotal Positions & Players: Opening Week vs Denver Broncos

Football is back, baby! The Las Vegas Raiders are set to battle an AFC West rival as the team takes to Denver this evening. Since moving to Sin City in 2020, the Silver and Black have walked away victorious from all six of their contests with the Broncos. Naturally, Las Vegas hopes their winning streak continues.

This offseason, Denver prepared for their ’23 campaign by acquiring head coach Sean Payton, who led the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2010. In the eyes of the Broncos, Payton is the perfect partner on the sidelines for Russell Wilson. Last summer, Denver shipped two first-rounders, two second-rounders and more to Seattle for the Pro Bowl quarterback.

With Payton now at the helm, this isn’t the same Broncos team that the Raiders have been bullying since moving to Nevada. The good news is, though, there’s still plenty of advantages at Las Vegas’ disposal.

If the Raiders want to earn yet another win, leaning on those advantages will help in a big way.

Las Vegas Raiders Week 1: Alex’s Pivotal Players and Positions

Denver fielded a formidable defense in 2022, totaling the 13th-lowest passing yards allowed and 10th-lowest rushing yards. Still, that didn’t stop the Raiders’ two first-team All-Pros from being, well, first-team All-Pros.

Davante Adams logged at least 100 receiving yards in each of the two times he faced Denver last season. In their first meeting, Adams notched 101 yards on nine receptions. During Week 11’s rematch, the star wideout upped his yardage to 141 while tacking on two scores. Of course, this included a walk-off touchdown in overtime to seal the season sweep.

Things were no different for Josh Jacobs.

Most teams fell victim to the Broncos’ tremendous run defense in 2022, struggling to run the football against the club. The Raiders, however, were not one of those teams. In Week 4, Jacobs ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He even added five receptions to his stat sheet. His production dipped a bit in their Week 11 duel, although 109 rushing yards is certainly still getting the job done; to say the least.

This portion sounds simple, but sometimes things truly are that simple: Your best players find ways to put your team in a great position to succeed. Adams and Jacobs did just that in both meetings with Denver last season.

On the other side of the ball, pass rush will be the Raiders’ best friend. Maxx Crosby is Las Vegas’ best player on defense, and his counterpart Tyree Wilson was the seventh-overall pick in this year’s draft. Denver added Mike McGlinchey to their offensive line this summer with hopes of creating more time for their signal caller. In addition, Chandler Jones won’t be taking the field.

All the same, this is a pivotal matchup – perhaps the most pivotal. If the Raiders can pressure Wilson, their chances of winning skyrocket. Wilson’s 43.5% completion percentage when under pressure was the eighth-lowest among starting quarterbacks one season ago.

*Top Photo: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

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