In Weeks 4 and 12 of the 2017 season, the Denver Broncos will face their archrival and now AFC West contender, Oakland Raiders. This is a series the Broncos must split if they hope to challenge the Raiders or the Kansas City Chiefs for the division title in 2017.
The good news is the Raiders sealed their long-term fate by giving Jack Del Rio a four-year extension. In his eleven years as head coach, he has never led a team to back to back playoff runs. I am personally banking on his streak to continue in 2017.
All-time series: Raiders lead 62-51-2, but 30-13 in favor of Broncos since 1995.
Raiders free agency
Key additions: Jared Cook, Marshall Newhouse, Cordarrelle Patterson, EJ Manuel
Key losses: Nate Allen, Daren Bates, DJ Hayden, Andre Holmes, Stacy McGee, Latavius Murray, Menelik Watson
The Raiders experienced more subtraction than addition during free agency, losing several starters while bringing in mostly reserve players to fill those roles. The biggest move was exercising Khalil Mack’s fifth-year option, which was the biggest no brainer move for this franchise in 2017.
Raiders 2017 draft class
Instead, the Raiders replaced their lost starters with draft picks. This is a good idea long-term, but rookies rarely come out and make an impact in year one. Having Gareon Conley fall of them late in the first-round was a gift and could end up being an elite player.
The rest of their draft class, much like most of the NFL’s draft picks in 2017, is a “wait and see” kind of thing. Overall, I think they drafted fairly well given their start position.
Raiders draft picks
|1||Gareon Conley||CB||Ohio State|
|5||Marquel Lee||LB||Wake Forest|
|7||Shalom Lauani||S||Washington State|
|7||Jylan Ware||OT||Alabama State|
|7||Elijah Hood||RB||North Carolina|
Way too early predictions
Week 4: Broncos 28, Raiders 17
Week 12: Raiders 27, Broncos 20
Surprisingly, these teams do not tend to play tight, close games. In their last 14 matchups, just three games have been decided by a touchdown or less. And two of those came during the Broncos 2015 Super Bowl run.
That said, these two teams are fairly close in terms of talent with the Broncos having a significant edge on the defensive side of the ball and the Raiders with a significant edge on the offense side of the ball.
If the Broncos can close the game with solid offensive line play and good quarterback decisions that attacks more than two sides of the field, we could see Denver become a sneaky good team in 2017. For now, I’ll hold back the optimism and regress back to the mean with a series split between these archrivals.
Broncos 2017 predictions
|1||Sep 11||vs. Los Angeles Chargers (MNF)||8:20 PM||Broncos 24-10|
|2||Sep 17||vs. Dallas Cowboys||2:25 PM||Cowboys 23-21|
|3||Sep 24||at Buffalo Bills||11:00 AM||Broncos 27-10|
|4||Oct 1||vs. Oakland Raiders||2:25 PM||Broncos 28-17|
|6||Oct 15||vs. New York Giants (SNF)||6:30 PM||Broncos 23-16|
|7||Oct 22||at Los Angeles Chargers||2:25 PM||Broncos 20-17|
|8||Oct 30||at Kansas City Cheifs (MNF)||6:30 PM|
|9||Nov 5||at Philadelphia Eagles||11:00 AM|
|10||Nov 12||vs. New England Patriots (SNF)||6:25 PM|
|11||Nov 19||vs. Cincinnati Bengals||2:25 PM|
|12||Nov 26||at Oakland Raiders||2:25 PM||Raiders 27-20|
|13||Dec 3||at Miami Dolphins||11:00 AM|
|14||Dec 10||vs. New York Jets||2:00 PM|
|15||Dec 14||at Indianapolis Colts (TNF)||6:25 PM|
|16||Dec 24||at Washington Redskins||11:00 AM|
|17||Dec 31||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||2:25 PM|