I am so excited to bring this Ultimate Fan Guide. For all the usual reasons for sure. You guys - as expected - have been hitting it out of the park.
But today I am bringing this to you with extra excitement because...1) it’s after a super-stressful-in-a-fun-way comeback win over the Niners; 2) I am on the other side of Hurricane Ian and thrilled to report nothing but leaves in my yard (but thinking of those who were in its path) and 3) IT’S RAIDUHS WEEK...always my fave.
So I’m expecting the Broncos to roll into Vegas and rock these Raiders just like a hurricane.
And so is Slinky_badger, another UFG rookie ready for prime time! As Slinky_badger said, the exciting part of the Broncos right now is it’s a team that knows it can win, and that brings all kinds of confidence and good things to follow. Love it.
Let’s do this, Broncos!
#BroncosCountry...it's ORANGE FRIDAY and RAIDERS WEEK! Let's see some of your favorite memes, GIFs, pics, etc. (Let's try to keep it clean and classy.) I'll start with Mr. B's desk. #Broncos pic.twitter.com/tv2atjefde— Mile High Prophet (@milehighprophet) September 30, 2022
Week 4: Broncos at Raiders
MHR - A lot of fans online were frustrated by last week’s game, but the Mile High crowd at the game seemed to tell a different story by the end. And in my opinion, the fourth quarter was super encouraging. But my opinion doesn’t matter here…how are you feeling about the team in general after the first three weeks?
Slinky_Badger: The defense was incredible and even though the offense wasn’t great through three quarters, there was a different feeling on that scoring drive. We have been used to those anemic three-and-out offenses for too long so to see more of the same after having a proven quarterback join the team was a little disheartening. Say what you want about Russell Wilson’s play up to this point, but when given the opportunity he has done just enough to squeak by with the win each time. If that continues I think we’ll start to see things gradually open up for the offense. So overall I’m encouraged and excited to watch the season unfold.
MHR - Let’s start with an unlikely topic…how ‘bout those special teams? Although the unit had a bit of a rough start to the season, Montrell Washington has been getting into a good rhythm on the return side of things and the kicking/coverage units were on fire last week. While it’s not fabulous that Corliss Waitman was called on to punt so often, it was fabulous that his kicks were a game-changer for field position. What say you?
Slinky_Badger: It’s so refreshing to see special teams as an asset and not a liability. As you say, we hope not to have to rely on the punt team, but if the opposing team is getting pinned back inside the 10, it’s a little easier to stomach the occasional three-and-out. Singleton made some fantastic plays, which were a lot of fun to see.
MHR - The defense. Wow. This unit seems to really be figuring itself out. Last week the head coach gave the entire defense a game ball for the way it consistently held the Niners with stops but also improved the offense’s field position and status with sacks and eventually some takeaways. Before we talk specifics, what part of this defense has you the most excited? The most concerned?
Slinky_Badger: I was most excited by the way the defense closed the game. There were a few times in the last couple of years where the defense couldn’t keep the opposing team out of field goal range even after having been solid all game. This time when San Francisco needed to move down the field, there was just no way it was happening. The defense came up BIG when it really mattered. That, for me, is the part that has me most excited. This team believes it can win, and will do what it takes when the game is on the line.
If I have a concern about the defense it’s how it will respond if injuries continue to pile up. Fangio seemed to be able to pull a rabbit out of a hat and keep the defense performing at a high level when Broncos were down to practice squad guys and free agents who signed the Wednesday before game day. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that this season. Although I dare say Evero is up to the task.
Who will win this AFC West battle in Week 4?— NFL (@NFL) September 30, 2022
: #DENvsLV — Sunday 4:25pm ET on CBS
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/fK7vaWAizI pic.twitter.com/FTOvid0YAC
MHR - Ok, brass tacks. Derek Carr has always been able against the Broncos to get the ball away quickly and hit his targets to move the chains - often very methodically down the field. The Raiders’ offense has not been great this year, but it’s a rivalry game, and the Raiders are desperate for a win after starting 0-3. With Darren Waller always a threat over the middle - and now big play wideout Davante Adams - what is the secret formula for this defense preventing the Raiders from scoring?
Slinky_Badger: Carr’s habit of having some of his best days against the Broncos is definitely a concern. Combine that with the Raiders current desperation and I see this as a stiff test for the defense. They have enough offensive weapons to carve us up if we let their offense get into a rhythm so I think playing aggressively is a must. Trust the DBs to limit big plays, and close quickly to limit YAC on short throws. If we could for once play with a decent lead that would go a long way to putting the defense in a position to make some big plays.
MHR - Outside of a few breakaway runs, Denver’s run defense, especially behind DJ Jones, has been solid this season. Jones is in concussion protocol and may not be in the lineup, but the Raiders have not been good at running the football. How do you see this playing out this week for Denver?
Slinky_Badger: Losing DJ Jones would definitely be a blow. Mike Purcell is on the injury report too, so as long as he is able to put in a performance like last week, the run defense should be good. If Jones is out and Purcell is on a snap count or is otherwise limited, then I think we could struggle there.
MHR - Josey Jewell had an amazing debut last week against the Niners. How important is he to the defense overall, and what do you expect from him this week?
Slinky_Badger: I expect Jewell to be consistent with his performance last week. Having said that, I think the linebackers will be tested often in coverage and that will be the biggest liability for the defense. As long as we can limit YAC then the defense should have plenty of opportunities to get the Raiders offense off the field.
MHR - Patrick Surtain II continues to wow as such a young cornerback. Is he the right guy to put on Davante Adams, or should he cover Mack Hollins who is the leading receiver in terms of yards right now for the Raiders? How important will the entire secondary be this weekend? Or perhaps the main duties will fall first on the pass rush?
Slinky_Badger: I would put Surtain on Adams. If he can limit Adams production one-on-one then it prevents the defense from having to commit double teams to Adams as often. That leaves Darby as the primary matchup for Hollins. Outside of the first half against Seattle, he has been solid. It looks like Renfrow is going to be out, but my biggest concern is that Waller has a big day against the Broncos.
With the talent in our secondary and the defense playing aggressively, hopefully Carr will be forced to hesitate enough that the pass rush can do its thing. They were outstanding against the 49ers and I for one can’t wait to see them wreak havoc again this weekend.
“We’re just all dialed in. … That’s what’s so special about this defense, everybody’s capable [of making] big-time plays.”@PatSurtainll x #TheDrive pic.twitter.com/iPEUkJVp78— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 1, 2022
MHR - The offense has yet to really click, but there have been signs of greatness. Last week’s scoring drive when needed proved Russell Wilson can still be the kind of QB he likes to be. Do we think the coach has figured this out?
Slinky_Badger: I don’t know about already figured, but I am confident that Hackett is figuring and will ultimately figure out how to create the best opportunities for Wilson to make magic in his offense. If that takes until mid-season or even slightly later to fully come together I wouldn’t be surprised. Meanwhile, I hope Wilson will continue to go off-script when necessary.
MHR - Courtland Sutton continues to shine, but the receiving corps overall has been an interesting mix of heroes - from rookie Montrell Washington to practice squad call-up Kendall Hinton to special teamer Tyrie Cleveland. Are you concerned at all about Jerry Jeudy not being a major contributor yet, or do you like the plethora of targets for Wilson?
Slinky_Badger: I’m not sure I’d call it a mix of heroes. I think outside of Sutton we are lacking in the hero department. We have seen Jeudy make some magnificent plays but he hasn’t done as much consistent damage to opposing defenses as I would hope. I wouldn’t say I’m concerned at this point, but if we see the offense start to gel and Jeudy isn’t riding the crest of that wave, I’ll be disappointed. I’m rooting for him to be what we all hoped when he was drafted.
MHR - Chandler Jones hasn’t really lived up to expectations for the Raiders’ defense, but Maxx Crosby is having a decent year. What kind of trouble could the Raiders’ D be for the Broncos’ offensive line and QB?
Slinky_Badger: Let’s hope this Sunday isn’t the day that Jones returns to form! It seems inevitable that Crosby is going to get some pressure on Wilson so it will be a case of limiting the impact of that either by getting the ball out quickly, or having Russell take advantage of opportunities to scramble.
MHR - How would you like to see Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson get the tight ends involved to take advantage of the middle of the field? Eric Saubert has seemed to be a preferred target at times for Wilson and currently is the only guy to get a red zone touchdown catch from the QB. Should he be utilized more?
Slinky_Badger: The TE room was one of my biggest concerns heading into the season and I’m not feeling any better about it now. I’d like to see Okwuegbunam and Saubert targeted a little more and as long as he isn’t trying to get to the edge on 4th-and-short, the same goes for Beck. Getting Wilson moving more might help open passing lanes to the middle of the field.
MHR - No Denver fan has any respect for Josh McDaniels. But he’s considered a good offensive-minded game planner, which has not been Nathaniel Hackett’s strength so far. Are you concerned about which coach can put together a better plan for Sunday?
Slinky_Badger: Luckily Hackett and McDaniels won’t face off directly. I have faith that Evero can scheme to disrupt McDaniels plans. Whether or not Hackett can out-scheme Patrick Graham remains to be seen. I’m hopeful the Broncos offense can do enough.
MHR - Russell Wilson took charge last week in that 4th quarter drive and made something happen after three quarters of bad offense. The coach, in his post-game day presser (on Monday), made it sound like the “off-script” by Wilson is all part of his plan. Do you buy it? Do you have confidence in Hackett as a play caller?
Slinky_Badger: I don’t buy it and I thought those comments were strange. If having Russ take more control and move the ball was always Hacketts plan, why wait until the 4th quarter to enact it? Hackett seems reluctant to admit to any shortcomings in the immediate aftermath of a game (see week 1 field goal decision denial) but seems able to reflect and figure things out given a few more days (enter Jerry Rosburg). Let’s hope that is a real trend which continues and we see more of Russell Wilson being all Russell Wilsony from the 1st quarter onwards.
MHR - There’s nothing like Raiders Week for old school fans. Not knowing how far back your memory of this rivalry goes, on a scale of 1-7 how much do you love beating this team?
Slinky_Badger: Of all the teams I love to beat, Raiders top the list. 7!!
Football Is Family. ✊ pic.twitter.com/vcWSaIRURk— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) September 30, 2022
Stats for RUSSELL “LET’S RIDE” WILSON? 22/31 for 235 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 19 yards rushing
Stats for each Broncos RB? Williams 73 yards rushing, 7 receiving, 1 TD. Gordon 58 yards rushing, 18 receiving
Number of yards receiving/TDs for all 187 receivers? Sutton 95/1, Jeudy 70/0, Hamler 26/0, Saubert 11/0, Cleveland 8/0
Longest FG for McManus? 49
Number of sacks to Wilson? 2
Number of sacks to Derek Carr? 2
Broncos player with the most tackles? Kareem Jackson
Who gets the first sack of the game for the Broncos? Jones
Who gets the most sacks? One each for Chubb and Dre’mont Jones
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2/2/1
How many time outs will Coach Hackett waste? None. All the game management issues have been fixed…
Final Score? Broncos 20, Raiders 16
Favorite Broncos win against the Raiders - ever? January 1st 2017 - I haven’t been around too long so don’t have many options to choose from, but I enjoyed this one. Kubiak’s last game, Talib took Crabtree’s chain, and I’m a Trevor Siemian fanboy.
Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Raiders
Coach you laugh at the most in the NFL? Well, it used to be Chucky, let’s hope it continues to be McDaniels.
Coach you most want to throw an egg at? Whatever coach beat the Broncos most recently - today that’s Pete Carroll.
Team you hate to lose to the most outside the AFC West? Patriots
NFC team you could cheer for in the Super Bowl? Giants. I live about 30min from Rutherford, N.J., and couldn’t see myself cheering for the Jets.
NFC team you want to face more than any other in the Super Bowl? I always love beating the Cowboys
Favorite game looking forward to this season? Rams on Christmas Day
Easiest game on the schedule? Jets at home
Toughest game left on the schedule? Chiefs at Arrowhead
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Simmons
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Demaryius Thomas
If YOU were giving a tour of the Ring of Fame at Mile High, which players would you make sure to highlight in your talk? Steve Atwater, a class act in every way.
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Demarri Mathis
Superstitions on game day? Not really superstitious…. I am a little stitious.
Favorite game analyst/commentator? Romo
Which sports cliche best describes the Broncos? “We’ve just got to execute”
✌️ more days 'til #DENvsLV— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) September 30, 2022
» https://t.co/Hv8QGu7E5b pic.twitter.com/Ch7bo7kS0i
What is the meaning behind your MHR handle?
When I was a student I took out a student loan to buy a car. It was a black Toyota Yaris and it looked a bit like a little badger, so I named the car Slinky Badger. The car was passed down to nieces and nephews and has since gone to the scrapyard, but I just paid off the loan last week! Thanks to the falling value of the pound.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
When I moved to the United States from the UK in August 2015 I decided to try and get into American football. Up to that point I had watched two games in my life, the latest of which was Super Bowl 48. I had picked the Broncos in that game and we were planning to settle in the Mountain West, so I picked the Broncos as my team. That was a fun season to start with. It only took a few weeks for me to get hooked.
Easy (but hard) old-school poll on the Raiders - which was a better win over the Raiders in 1977?
This poll is closed
The Classic - beating them 20-17 to win their first ever AFC Championship
The Contender - taking down the former Super Bowl champs in Week 5 and ending their undefeated record...before going on to a Super Bowl season themselves.