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Is the Raiders game ‘must win’ for Sean Payton?

A new era of Denver Broncos football embarks this weekend, but does new coach Sean Payton need a win to silence doubters?

Syndication: USA TODAY Rob Schumacher / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Denver Broncos have suffered six straight losses to the Las Vegas (or wherever) Raiders, the most recent two which came to hated former coach Josh McDaniels.

The Broncos, though, have since shed themselves of incompetence in the name of Nathaniel Hackett and his complete in-over-his-head/I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing style of leadership and have replaced him with Super Bowl winner Sean Payton.

To repeat, the Broncos now have a competent head coach with a history of winning, playmakers all around, while the Raiders have a proven cheater as head coach coming off six wins with Jimmy Garoppolo leading the way. In his first ever game wearing orange and blue, is this a must-win game for Payton?

Given what transpired last season, in which just about every player probably was in need of a sports psychologist at season’s end, it’s tough to put too much emphasis on a week one game implementing a new system, but at the same time...vast improvements will be expected if not demanded.

In Payton’s last three seasons as head coach of the New Orleans Saints, he won his week one games, and he mostly did that same thing for the majority of his coaching career, although he has been known to lose a few as well.

But here’s the thing...

This is the Raiders. This is not a great team on paper.

Do they have some very good, if not great, players? Josh Jacobs, Maxx Crosby, and Davante Adams prove that yes, they do, especially Jacobs who has had the Broncos’ number in recent years.

Yet, the Broncos have some good players of their own.

Russell Wilson, despite his faults from last season, is a better QB than Jimmy Garoppolo.

The revamped offensive line, featuring Mike McGlinchey and Ben Powers, should be able to put up with whatever the Raiders front seven brings.

Javonte Williams, even if he is not rushed back, is healthy and has insurance in the backfield with him in the form of Samaje Perine and potential swiss army knife Jaleel McLaughlin.

Pat Surtain II is the best cover corner in the game, and the rest of the defense can hold their own.

Jerry Jeudy (if he plays, which is looking more likely), Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims, and Greg Dulcich give Wilson four excellent targets.

And finally Sean Payton is a Super Bowl winner and future Hall-of-Famer while McDaniels has spent his career being Bill Belichick’s stooge.

Anything can happen in the NFL, but on paper, the Broncos are a better team than the Las Vegas Raiders. Must win? That seems demanding. But a game the team SHOULD win and would be a disappointment if they didn’t?


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