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Broncos at Raiders preview: Can Denver leave Las Vegas victorious?

For the first time in this rivalry, the game will take place in Las Vegas. Here’s how the Broncos can get the win.

Denver Post Archives Denver Post via Getty Images

The questions around Drew Lock.

The focus on the playcalling of Pat Shurmur.

Despite all the uncertainty, there is one unifying factor for Denver Broncos fans.

We can all agree that we hate the Las Vegas Raiders. The degree may vary, but there is consensus on that front.

And now for the first time in this historic rivalry, the game is set for Las Vegas. Denver opens as at least a 5-point underdog to the Raiders.

Can the Broncos make good on one of the items on Pat Bowlen’s to-do list? On the MHR Radio Podcast Podcast, Adam Malnati and I discussed the rivalry and how Denver can leave Sin City with a win.

Offensive Rankings

Denver: Twenty-sixth in overall offense (336.6 yards per game), 16th in rushing (111.6), 24th in passing (225.0), 27th in scoring offense (21.8 points per game).

Las Vegas: Fourteenth in overall offense (371.6 yards per game), 9th in rushing (131.3), 19th in passing (240.4), 11th in scoring offense (27.3 points per game).

Defensive Rankings

Denver: Sixteenth in overall in defense (360.4 yards per game), 18th in rushing defense (119.5), 17th in passing defense (240.9), 22nd in scoring defense (27.1 points per game).

Las Vegas: Twenty-third in overall defense (385.6 yards per game), 16th in rushing defense (118.5), 26th in passing defense (267.1), 24th in scoring defense (28.6 points per game).

Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday’s game.

Fast start for the Broncos

This was my key for Week 9 against the Atlanta Falcons, and until Denver does it, it will remain my key. It’s the key for the Broncos. They have to find a way to start games the way they’re finishing them. As Andrew Mason pointed out on Twitter a few days, the Broncos have trailed by double digits after one half of play in five of eight games this season, including five of their last seven. Lock and Denver need to flip the script on Sunday. — Ian St. Clair

Simplify

Shurmur has to spoon feed Lock simple reads like he did in the second half of the Falcons game. Thirty-three percent of Lock’s completions were to curl routes, more than one was his first read. At one point Shurmur called a flood concept on back to back plays because Lock read it right. — Joe Rowles

Compensate on defense

The Raiders, who’ve put up 31+ points in half of their games this season, don’t care that Denver is missing half of its defensive starters. Hopefully the Broncos will get Bryce Callahan and/or A.J. Bouye back, but the loss of Shelby Harris will hurt in trying to contain Josh Jacobs. Part of not getting into the position of attempting a 20+ point comeback is not allowing the other team to build that lead in the first place. — Taylor Kothe

Run the ball

The Broncos are asking Lock to throw 40+ passes per game and with a QB as poor as Lock is at actual NFL quarterback level skills, that’s a recipe for digging a hole. Run the ball successfully and often to help keep the defense fresh, the third downs easier to convert, and stop asking a poor quarterback to go win games. We were done with this style of football in 2011. — sadaraine

Win the turnover battle

Stealing offensive possessions is the best way to ensure that the defense won’t be on the field too much. It will also limit the offensive chances of the Raiders. — Adam Malnati

What are your keys to Sunday’s game?