Midnight is fast approaching Broncos Country. Zero hour and the Denver Broncos begin the Sean Payton era against their biggest historical rival. The Las Vegas Raiders will be a good measuring stick for where this team is at.
Raider Week is a focal point of every season for the Broncos. Add in the Josh McDaniels factor, and how poorly Denver has played over the last 3⁄4 of a decade, and Week 1, Raider Week, the start of the Sean Payton Era, becomes, perhaps, the most important game since Super Bowl 50.
For Payton, the rivalry is not nearly as important as it is for the fans. We are born to hate the Raiders. Payton has a different perspective, and it could be a step in the right direction. Win the game, but don’t become hyper-focused on any one team.
#Broncos HC Sean Payton on division "rivalries" like Week 1 opponent Las Vegas: "Look, divisional games are important. The first goal is to find a way to win your division. I can't speak to rivalries. I just think that exists a little bit more in the collegiate game."— Parker Gabriel (@ParkerJGabriel) September 4, 2023
Hyperbole? Probably, but starting the season with a win sure would do a lot for the psyche of Broncos Country. I don’t claim to know the pulse of the entire fan base, but if people are anything like me, there is a cautious optimism cloaked in trepidation. The hope of a new season coupled with the fear of failure has me bouncing all over the place when I think about my expectations for this team.
On Odds and Endzones Ian and I did a rapid-fire win-loss breakdown. He landed on 14-3, while I ended up with a record of 12-5. What does that mean? Probably very little. Still, it says a lot about what we believe the team is capable of.
DraftKings has the Broncos win total at 8.5, which means we are probably too high on the Broncos. Still, I told Ian on the show, this is a team that could go 7-10 or 14-3. It’s all about the way the ball bounces.
All eyes will be on how Payton uses his QB. Russell Wilson’s first season in Denver was a disaster. There were few bright spots, and he will have a lot of questions to answer about his abilities. Payton seems to be setting him up to be a game manager, leaning heavily on the run gam.
Week 1 isn’t the end all be all of a season. Win or lose, the Broncos have a lot more to prove than just winning the first game of the season. However, beating the Raiders to start off Sean Payton’s career in Denver gives that optimism a stronger hold than that trepidation.
Hope springs eternal, but wins bring joy. Broncos Country needs this one.