The hatred and history speak for themselves.
But now you throw in a little spice with Josh McDaniels now the head coach of the Raiders and the emotion/intrigue amp up even more. The former coach of the Broncos definitely left his mark on this Broncos (2-1) franchise, one just about everyone has bleached from their memory.
Add in the fact Las Vegas (0-3) enters Sunday’s game winless on the season, Russell Wilson gets his first taste of this rivalry and Denver trying to contain Davante Adams and this weekend is going to be incredibly interesting.
At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Broncos are a +2.5-point underdog, showing bettors the linemakers have no faith in Wilson and this offense.
To preview the game, we go behind enemy lines to get a feel for the Raiders, the players to watch and what to expect in Sunday’s game with Matt Holder from Silver and Black Pride. For those who are interested, here are my answers to Matt’s 5 questions.
MHR: How does Raider Nation feel about Josh McDaniels and the 0-3 start? Conversely, what is the thinking on Russell Wilson and the Broncos?
Holder: In short, not great. McDaniels — and general manager Dave Ziegler — won over the fanbase in the offseason by bringing in Davante Adams and Chandler Jones, and that momentum continued into a 4-0 preseason. However, it’s been all downhill since then as no one is happy with an 0-3 start while the team looks completely disjointed and like they don’t know how to win, which falls on the head coach’s shoulders.
A lot of Raider Nation is definitely happy to see Russell Wilson struggle with the Broncos, but most people are pretty preoccupied with the Raiders’ pitiful start to the season to care too much about how another team’s quarterback is playing. At the end of the day, I think just about anyone will take a struggling QB and a 2-1 record over a team that’s still looking for their first win in Week 4.
MHR: How surprising is this start for the Raiders? What are the reasons for the winless start?
Holder: No one expected this. I think even the biggest Raider haters figured they’d have at least one win by now, maybe even two.
I think the biggest reason is they just aren’t playing as a cohesive team, similar to what I said above about them figuring out how to win. Probably the best example of this comes from last week’s game against the Titans.
In the first half, the offense was moving the ball but the defense allowed touchdowns on Tennessee’s first three drives and a field goal on their fourth. Then the defense figures it out in the second half to pitch a shutout but the offense can’t put up enough points to win. The sequence of plays that exemplify this the best came in the middle of the third quarter when Duron Harmon got an interception that gave the Raiders the ball on the Titans’ 31-yard line for a perfect scoring opportunity. However, Vegas managed to lose 10 yards on three plays during the subsequent drive and ended up punting.
It’s been the little things and that’s what makes it so frustrating.
MHR: Despite the 0-3 record, DraftKings has the Raiders as the -2.5-point favorite. What do you think of the spread and how would you bet it?
Holder: Honestly, I want to be a homer and say that the Raiders will win outright and cover, but I just don’t have confidence in them right now. I’ve picked them to win every week this season so I guess I’ve got to reverse course and go with a Costanza approach and take the Broncos. Denver’s defense has been lights out this year and I’ve been a Raiders fan long enough to know that this will be Wilson’s “get right game.”
MHR: Who are some of the under-radar players Broncos Country should keep an eye on? And what are your keys to the Raiders getting the win?
Holder: I’d say Amik Robertson on defense and Dylan Parham on offense. Broncos Country might remember Robertson from the past as he got to start in the first matchup of last season but ended up getting benched before halftime. He’s playing really well this year though and is a top 20 cornerback according to PFF’s grading system, and Nate Hobbs is in concussion protocol and Rock Ya-Sin has a bad knee so I think Robertson will be a big key to keeping Denver’s passing game in check. Parham has been pretty solid as a rookie, especially since the coaching staff has thrown a lot at him as a rookie. He’s started all three games at two different positions and has been solid so far.
To me, this will be an old-school, turn-back-the-clock game where the focus is on the running game for both teams. Defensively, Vegas needs to be able to keep Javonte Williams in check and make Wilson prove that he’s the player he once was. And on the other side of the ball, I think we’ll see McDaniels focus on attacking the Broncos on the ground with Josh Jacobs and Co. as the Bronco’s secondary and pass rush are deadly.
MHR: How big of a rivalry is this for the Raiders and Raider Nation? What are your expectations/predictions for Sunday’s game?
Holder: Raider fans definitely want to beat the Ponies. Anytime two teams have played each other for this long, there’s going to be hate and animosity toward the other side and the matchups with the Broncos are always on the top of the fanbase’s calendar. And both players and fans don’t forget what happened the year before, adding more fuel to the fire.
As I mentioned above, my confidence in the Raiders is pretty shaken, so I’ll say Denver wins 17-13. Hopefully, I’m just the jinx.
This post is brought to you by DraftKings Sportsbook.