For years now, the Broncos position in the AFC West has been fairly static. Lose to the Chiefs, fight with the Chargers and Raiders. Last year Drew Lock, Vic Fangio, and especially Shelby Harris made sure the Oakland Raiders’ history came to an end with with a big fat L. Can they help Vegas open their new division series in a similar fashion?
To get insight into the matchup, I reached out to Silver and Black Pride’s Cam Mellor.
1st and 10
Derek Carr hasn’t looked this good in years. What happened? Can Fangio and the Broncos’ defense slow him down?
Mellor: So this one is interesting because for all intents and purposes, he’s playing worse than he has the past two seasons, he just isn’t having quite the bad luck as he once had. Bad luck can be a number of things for a quarterback but the most palpable item for anyone to look at for a quarterback is interceptions. So the general narrative that he’s having a better season than years past is certainly because of that. He’s still relatively inconsistent on a down-to-down basis, but he’s just not quite making the big errors that saw him throw double-digit interceptions in four of his first seven seasons. Keeping him off base and keeping him guessing on defense will stymie him in this one.
2nd and 1
With Shelby Harris on the Covid list, Josh Jacobs looks like he could have a huge day. What should Broncos’ Country expect from the Raiders’ running game?
Mellor: The rush game is hot and cold with Jacobs this season, but for the Broncos, they’re probably getting a hot time for the second-year pro. He’s eclipsed that ever-important mark of 100 yards just once this season but it has been his strength in the red zone that’s kept him on the field. He’s hogging those touches inside the opponent’s 20, so expect to also see some more from the stable of running backs to keep Jacobs fresh for goal-to-go and easily-obtainable yardage situations in the red zone.
Most missed tackles forced (rush+rec):— PFF (@PFF) November 5, 2020
Mike Davis - 39
David Montgomery - 39
Clyde Edwards-Helaire - 34
Josh Jacobs - 33
Dalvin Cook - 33 pic.twitter.com/umu5OogavT
3rd and inches
Do you think the Broncos’ line can find a way to keep Lock upright?
Mellor: Upright long enough, yes. Upright in general, no. Clelin Ferrell is blossoming right in front of our eyes with plus run defense skills but also in his consistency when rushing the passer. He’s gone from a below-average pass-rusher to well above-average this year and is winning his one-on-one sets with tackles significantly more frequently than last year. He may not have the sack totals to prove it, but more often than not, it will be Ferrell pushing the pocket with the rotational play of Carl Nassib, Arden Key and Maxx Crosby helping out. They may not always get home with sacks, but they’ll consistently be getting to Lock and forcing errant throws early in the play.
Clelin Ferrell has been on the field for 220 pass plays since his last sack for #Raiders vs Chargers in Week 16 last season— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) November 13, 2020
4th and 2
I expect Chucky to find a way to score some points. How can Pat Shurmur and the Broncos offense answer?
Mellor: Pass the ball down the field, specifically down the middle of the field. The Raiders have been terrible over the middle of the field and well, simply put, anywhere besides to Trayvon Mullen’s side, no one can really make a play on the ball to save their lives this season. Quarterbacks are completing well over 64% of their passes in between the hash marks against the Raiders defense, to all levels of the field, so attacking the middle is the way to go.
What’s your prediction for the game?
Mellor: The talk of the town, at least in the circles that got out to Vegas, is that Drew Lock balls out indoors. With this, his first trip indoors against the Raiders and in Allegiant, I don’t see a way that that changes, just with how poor the Raiders defense has been. Granted, there will be pressure put on Lock and he’s struggled against that this year, that’s a highly volatile level of play to look at on a week-to-week level so I expect him to make just enough plays in the pass game, pressured or not, to eek out a victory. Just don’t tell my readers at S&BP.
Who ya got?
This poll is closed
Broncos by a ton
Broncos by a little
Raiders by a ton
Raiders by a little