Originally published by RaidersNewswire.com
Despite all the major setbacks the Las Vegas Raiders (5-3) have endured with their violations of coronavirus (COVID-19) protocol, they still find themselves in a good position to make a playoff push heading into the second half of the 2020 NFL season.
The Raiders are 2-0 against AFC West opponents with clutch wins over both the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. They now have good reason to be optimistic that they can keep it going against the Denver Broncos (2-6) in Week 10.
The Broncos have endured key losses with linebacker Von Miller out for the year and quarterback Drew Lock nursing a shoulder injury. Regardless, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is well aware of what this team is capable of.
Gruden shared some high praise for the Broncos leading up to this weekend’s matchup, per Levi Edwards of the team’s official website:
“I give this team a lot of credit. They can come from behind and they’ve proven that two weeks in a row, they were down big in the Charger game two weeks ago and (Drew) Lock brought them back to win. Really impressive, they have firepower to go over your head, they can run it.”
“We know what we’re in for… their offense is young, talented and emerging.”
There is certainly plenty of truth to Gruden’s comments. While the Raiders have played well amid the circumstances so far this season, approaching this week as an easy win could come back to bite them.
The Broncos have enjoyed the emergence of wide receiver Jerry Jeudy as their bonafide No. 1 option in the passing game. This week will also see him reunited with his former Alabama teammate and wide receiver Henry Ruggs III so it is safe to say that they will be looking to one-up each other in their first NFL meeting.
Jeudy is currently winning the battle with 30 receptions on 61 targets for 484 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Ruggs has registered just 10 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown after missing two games this season.
There is certainly no shortage of talent at the skill positions with KJ Hamler complementing Jeudy and the 1-2 punch between Phillip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon in the backfield. However, the struggles along the offensive line have largely prevented this group from taking that next step.
If the Raiders hope to contain this talented, young offense, they will need to take advantage by pressing the issue on Lock early on. They must also look to avoid falling behind early on as they did versus the Chargers.
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