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Broncos vs Raiders preview: How does Denver continue its early season success?

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Here’s what we think the Broncos need to do to beat the hated Raiders and improve to 2-0.

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MHR Radio Podcast

There was a time this game was circled on the schedule.

For the more seasoned fans of the Denver Broncos, that’s still the case. No matter the amount of time that passes or the two franchises change, the games against the Oakland Raiders still matter the most.

It’s officially Raider Hater Week. And right on cue: Fuck the Raiders!

But there is an aspect about the 2018 edition of this classic rivalry that is both marvelous and hilarious. Perhaps it’s the return of Jon Gruden. To a lesser extent, it’s the fact Denver is 2-3 in the last five games against the Raiders. Those are close, but I’ll need a few seconds to get my laughter under control to give you the real reason.

Dramatic pause ...

This shitty franchise pulled the unthinkable and traded Khalil Mack.

Way to go, Raiders. Mile High Salute, Gruden.

This by no means guarantees a Broncos win on Sunday at Mile High, but it doesn’t make it any tougher. The two teams enter the Week Two rivalry game on different paths. The Raiders (0-1) on the heels of a 33-13 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams; Denver (1-0) an electric 27-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

On the latest MHR Radio Podcast, Adam Malnati and I were joined by Brandon Perna to preview the game and laugh at the sheer stupidity of Gruden and the Raiders for trading Mack. It is imperative for Broncos fans, sports fans and non sports fans to checkout Perna’s YouTube Channel.

Offensive Rankings

Oakland: Seventh in overall offense (395.0 yards), 22nd in rushing (95.0), tied for eighth in passing (300.0) and 28th in points (13).

Denver: Fifth in overall offense (470.0 yards), seventh in rushing (146.0), fourth in passing (324.0) and tied for ninth in points (27).

Defense Rankings

Oakland: Twenty-first in overall defense 365.0 yards), 25th in rushing (140.0), tied for 14th passing (225.0) and 26th in points (33).

Denver: Ninth in overall defense (306.0 yards), third in rushing (64), 19th in passing (242.0) and tied for 18th in points (24).

Here are our keys to the game.

Turnovers

Here’s the evergreen key for the season. If it’s not the most crucial, it’s right at the top. But Case Keenum and the Broncos need to win the turnover margin. The plus from the win over the Seahawks is Denver finished even. But make no mistake, the Broncos cannot turn the ball over three times and beat Oakland. And Keenum knows that. On the flip side, the defense needs to take advantage of pick-friendly Derek Carr. Ian St. Clair

Orange Rush

I just finished rewatching Oakland-LA as I write this and Kolton Miller got schooled by Samson Ebukam, a second-year player who had two sacks last season. Gruden moved his Pro-Bowl left tackle to the right side for that, which has weakened the entire unit. The Broncos Orange Rush should feast. — Just_JoRo

Cover the tight end

For the love of God, put Adam Jones on Jared Cook. He’s 6-foot-5 and Jones is the biggest guy the Broncos have. Denver needs someone on him who can take away the ball and cover him. Stop letting TE be the mismatch. And to anyone who says “then who will cover their third receiver if Jones is on Cook?” Forget about the third receiver on Sunday; he won’t be worth worrying about. The Broncos need to focus on covering Cook and the Oakland running backs far more than they need to focus on Seth Roberts. — Pete Baron

Offensive line

Last Sunday, we saw offensive line play like we haven’t seen it out of the Broncos in years. They gave up just *one* sack — and that was on Matt Paradis! The Raiders defense looks to be woeful this year, but consistent production and sustained drives on offense all start at the line of scrimmage. If the “big uglies” give Keenum the time and space to pass comfortably and keep opening holes for Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay, Denver will be in control of this game from start to finish. — Taylor Kothe

Fix the mistakes

After watching the two teams get their first game in, I feel like it’s more about fixing problems, rather than adjusting to beat them. If the things Denver did well continue into this game (protection of the quarterback, four-five yard runs on first down, defensive pressure) the Broncos should be good. Continue the good aspects from the win against Seattle, fix the mistakes (I’m confident Keenum will continue to improve) on both sides of the ball, continue good special teams play, and let the Raiders be the Raiders with their 20 plus penalties. — Casey Barrett

In-game adjustments

The Broncos were able to overcome adversity during their win against Seattle, but a big aspect of winning is adjusting to what the other team is doing. It seems as if Denver has the talent to be considered the better team, but when the whistle blows can it make the necessary changes to ensure a victory? Ideally, this won’t be necessary, but after seeing what Oakland did against the Rams, I doubt the Raiders will have a similar game plan. With limited tape, and likely adjustments, it could take some smart in-game evaluations to make sure the Broncos come away with their second win. — Adam Malnati

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What are your keys to victory for the Broncos?