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Raiders, Broncos ‘totally different teams’ than their first meeting this season

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Oakland Raiders v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Technically speaking this is the second time the Raiders and Broncos franchises have met this season. The teams themselves, on the other hand, are quite different.

Of the 44 starters for both teams in their first meeting, 20 have changed since. That’s ten for each team. Clearly the long season has taken a hard toll on both teams. The question will be who has had it worse.

“Totally different teams. Especially us,” Jon Gruden said this week of the Raiders and Broncos. “Marshawn [Lynch] ran good in that game. I think Amari [Cooper] had 10 catches. Donald [Penn] was the right tackle. Martavis [Bryant] made a few plays. Gabe, obviously, was the right guard. We have a lot of things that have changed. We did some good things offensively, we just couldn’t close the deal.”

The Raiders lost that game by one point. The big play was unheralded receiver Tim Patrick catching a short pass and taking it 26 yards to set up the game-winning field goal. Whether the Raiders can have a similar hard-fought close game with the Broncos is hard to say. They’re just too different now to know for sure.

Skill positions

Both teams have lost key starters here. The Broncos lost both starting wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Sanders landed on injured reserve and Thomas was traded.

That’s very much like the Raiders who traded Amari Cooper and lost Martavis Bryant to IR (now banned from the NFL). Coop led the Raiders with 10 catches for 110 yards that game and Bryant was third on the team with 4 catches for 30 yards.

The Broncos’ Pro Bowl starters have been replaced by rookies Daesean Hamilton and Courtland Sutton. The Raiders replaced Cooper and Bryant with Seth Roberts and rookie Marcell Ateman to go along with Jordy Nelson.

The Broncos lost two tight ends Jake Butt and Jeff Heuerman to IR, leaving their top four receivers from their first meeting all gone. Matt LaCosse is the tight end now with fullback Andy Janovich starting.

As Gruden noted, the Raiders had Marshawn back then and he had 65 yards rushing and a touchdown in the game. He went to injured reserve and it’s been Doug Martin as the starter with Jalen Richard splitting carries with him ever since.

The Broncos have been in good hands all season with rookies Philip Lindsay and Royce Freeman. The undrafted Lindsay was just named to the Pro Bowl.

Offensive line

The right side of the Raiders offensive line is going to be different than their first match-up. It was guard Gabe Jackson and tackle Donald Penn in week two. Both are on IR now. It’s Denzelle Good and rookie Brandon Parker at those two spots now. Parker has been the starter since week five and Good was claimed off waivers from the Colts a couple weeks ago.

The Broncos have three offensive line changes with each interior line position different than the first meeting. It was Ronald Leary at left guard, Matt Paradis at center, and Connor McGovern at right guard. Leary and Paradis both headed to injured reserve, which had Billy Turner replace the Pro Bowler Leary, McGovern move over from guard to center, and first year undrafted free agent Elijah Wilkinson take over at right guard. And you thought the Raiders had a patchwork offensive line.

Defensive line

On defense, the Raiders have changed up a couple defensive line positions. They didn’t have Justin Ellis who was lost in the season opener. He’s back now. They also had Bruce Irvin who has since been waived and signed with Atlanta. Rookie Arden Key has started since he left.

The D line has been steady for the Broncos with the outstanding duo of Derek Wolfe and Domata Peko.


Two of the Raiders top three linebackers from that game are gone. Derrick Johnson and Emmanuel Lamur have both since been released, while Nicholas Morrow starts and Marquel Lee and Jason Cabinda split time. Only Tahir Whitehead has been the constant presence.

Once again, the linebackers have been steady here, with an elite pass rushing duo of Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb on the outside, and Brandon Marshall and Todd Davis on the inside.


The secondaries for each team has seen some changes. Gone for the Raiders was starting safety Reggie Nelson, replaced by Karl Joseph. Daryl Worley was serving a 4-game suspension the last time they played and has since returned. Although he now has a shoulder injury that could keep him out, so that would put the starting duo back to Gareon Conley who had four pass breakups in that first game and Rashaan Melvin who had his only interception of the season. Slot corner Leon Hall is on IR and rookie Nick Nelson has taken over those duties.

The Broncos have both of their starting cornerbacks changed out. Chris Harris Jr is on IR so Bradley Roby starts. Adam Jones has since been released, so Tremaine Brock starts. I’m not sure either of those changes are downgrades, honestly.

As for how each team has performed since; both teams went on to lose six of their next seven games. The Broncos are 3-2 over the last five and the Raiders are 2-3. They even both beat the Steelers and Cardinals. But the Broncos have beaten the Seahawks, Bengals, and Chargers. The Raiders have not. Thus they are 6-8 and a 3-point favorite over the 3-111 Raiders.