The mere mention of the Oakland Raiders should elicit a negative emotion.
As a fan of the Denver Broncos it’s as natural as breathing. In Broncos Country you’re a born-and-bred Raider Hater. Yet with the season over, Sunday’s game doesn’t mean a damn thing. One could make the argument a win would actually be counterproductive for the Broncos. The point now is to finish with the worst possible record as to ensure the best selection possible in the NFL Draft.
Thus Sunday’s game in Oakland poses an interesting dilemma for fans — hope for a defeat of the hated Raiders or #EmbraceTheTank?
Wherever you fall, Denver (3-7) heads into the Week 12 rivalry game gorging on a six-game losing streak with no signs of taking a break in the near future. The Raiders (4-6) have lost three of their last five and morphed back into the Raiders we all know and love.
Oakland: Twenty-first in overall offense (326.5 yards), 27th in rushing (89.7), 14th in passing (236.8) and seventh in points (27).
Denver: Eighteenth in overall offense (329.8 yards), 15th in rushing (112.9), 18th in passing (216.9) and tied for 24th in points (18.3).
Oakland: Twenty-sixth in overall defense (367 yards), 17th in rushing (113.8), 27th in passing (253.2) and tied for 21st in points (24.7).
Denver: Third in overall defense (283.2 yards), fourth in rushing (85.5), fifth in passing (197.7) and tied for 27th in points (25.9).
Here are our keys to Sunday’s game.
Rediscover their sense of pride
The Broncos are emotionally broken, they’re soft and their season is over. There is no doubt those aspects are the hardest part for this team to overcome in Sunday’s game. Though this is where a true “leader of men” would get his team to rise above all of that.
As @AdamMalnati16 & I said on the @MileHighReport Radio Podcast, it took 16 months longer than it should, but the #Broncos & #BroncosCountry will finally get to see what the future holds, good or bad. https://t.co/qLfJ4SYZyl— Ian St. Clair (@IanStClair) November 22, 2017
As Adam Malnati and I said on the MHR Radio Podcast, what should help give the team that little spark is the switch to Paxton Lynch at quarterback but also Bill Musgrave at offensive coordinator. You now have two guys playing and coaching for their jobs, and that starts on Sunday.
Good for Denver it also plays a hated rival to find its lost pride. You often hear for games like this you throw the records out. The hatred and history is so thick, neither side wants to give an inch. Even Vance Joseph can’t screw that up, can he? - Ian St. Clair
Don’t beat the Raiders
Keep Lynch upright
We're almost certainly going to see Lynch debut at quarterback for the season, along with Musgrave debuting as Denver’s offensive coordinator. Musgrave will hopefully be doing some interesting things with Lynch, win or lose, so the line needs to keep the young gun clean for the best evaluation of his potential and ability possible. - Taylor Kothe
Get rid of mistakes
If the team hasn't fully embraced the tank, then it should focus on not fucking up. The mistakes that happen over and over again is why this team has lost six-straight games. The talent on this team far exceeds the teams slugging through the muck below them right now. The Cleveland Browns? Give me a break. The San Francisco 49ers? Please. The Giants? Well, they beat Denver in Denver ... so maybe they aren't to terrible. My point is the talent is there. The Broncos are just really good at giving momentum right back to the other team whenever things start going well. Make it stop! - Tim Lynch
Whatever it takes, it’s the effing Raiders
Here’s the thing. No matter what is happening, there is never a time to be OK with a loss to Oakland. And so the big key is getting the offense going. A switch at offensive coordinator could be the antidote to all the woes on offense. To extend that, maybe a change at quarterback. But, really, it’s all about the big guys in the trenches. If they can block, the Broncos can win. - Adam Malnati