Raiders At Broncos Preview: Cold Weather Vs. Derek Carr With Season On The Line

Sixteen weeks later and we’re right back where we started: with the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos playing each other. After beating the Broncos at home in Week 1, 24-16, the Raiders are still fighting for their playoff lives with a trip to Denver on the agenda for Sunday.

One thing of note this time around is how different both rosters will look. Of most note is Denver’s new quarterback — second-rounder Drew Lock, who is starting his fourth straight game. So far in his career, Lock is 3-1 as a starter.

For the Raiders, it will be interesting to see who steps up in this one as the injuries have continued to mount. Josh Jacobs and Richie Incognito are both expected to miss the game, and that is one top of Trent Brown being placed on injured reserve a couple of weeks ago.

Regardless, the most important storyline heading into Sunday will once again be quarterback Derek Carr. As you’ve heard all season, the narrative goes that he can’t handle the cold — well, the forecast for Denver on Sunday is a high of 35 degrees, which to a California kid qualifies as ‘cold’. Last week Carr was magnificent, completing almost 90% of his passes, accounting for two touchdowns and not turning the ball over. Of all the storylines, that one should be the biggest.

Other things to watch for…

Ground Game

Last week, the Raiders absolutely obliterated the Charger rushing attack — something defensive end Maxx Crosby said was an emphasis in the week leading up. I’ll be curious to see whether the Raiders can be as effective this week against the Broncos — a team that got them for 95 yards on the ground the first time they played.

Last week against the Lions, Phillip Lindsay and Co. ran for 150 yards on 33 carries while adding two touchdowns as well.

Don’t give in

While the Raider defense has been playing much better over the past couple of weeks, it’s the last 5-10 minutes of the game that still seems to be giving them trouble. I don’t know if it’s them sliding into soft defenses or the other team’s ability to out-adjust in the middle of the game — but either way, it’s concerning.

Last time these two teams played, the Raiders jumped out to a 14-0 lead and kept the Broncos out of the end zone until just before the two-minute warning in the fourth quarter. While getting out to a fast start has been the Raider MO this year, on the road against a surging Broncos team they might need their defense for all 60 minutes on Sunday.

Williams & Waller

In Week 1, Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller combined to catch 13 passes (on 15 targets) for 175 yards and a touchdown. Of late, Waller has become the target of opposing defensive game plans and Williams has been battling a foot injury. In what will amount to a massive test for “cold-weather” Carr, he’ll need his top two pass catchers ready to roll on Sunday.

If the Raiders can get these guys the ball something like 12-15 times — with a dash of Hunter Renfrow in there as well — it’ll mean good things for the Raider point total.

Prediction: Broncos 23, Raiders 22

Last week I picked the Chargers and I was wrong — I’m hoping for the trend of me being wrong to continue! Denver is a tough place to play, and being that this is a divisional game, you can bet it still means something to the Broncos. Add in the fact that they’re trying to give their young quarterback some confidence heading into the offseason and I think this will be an exciting game.

I think the Raider defense holds for most of the game, but a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns from Courtland Sutton buries Oakland and ends any hope they have of seeing their season continue.

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