The Denver Broncos allow the least amount of points in the NFL at 149 total. Unfortunately for the horsemen, they also score the least amount of points in the league at 131. It’s quite the conundrum for the Broncos.
Yet, here come the Las Vegas Raiders marching into Empower Field at Mile High for a Sunday afternoon matchup between the two AFC West cellar dwellers. The Silver & Black haven’t won on the road this season (0-5) and are often the cure to what ails a football team — an unfortunate distinction for the Raiders.
Interestingly enough, Denver’s (3-6 overall) highest offensive output of the season was a 23 in a 32-23 loss to Las Vegas (2-7) in Allegiant Stadium back in Week 4. (The 32 points are the Raiders second-highest point total this season, the 38 against the Houston Texans being the high-water mark). The Broncos’ high-profile addition of quarterback Russell Wilson hasn’t panned out quite how Denver brass expected. Ditto for the hiring of Nathanial Hackett as head coach. But one could flip the other side of the coin and say something similar when it comes to the Raiders making Josh McDaniels the new head honcho.
However, as mentioned above, playing a lax Raiders defense is often a cure-all for struggling offenses and if Las Vegas isn’t dialed in, round two with the Broncos can surely go in favor of the Mile High horsemen.
By The Numbers
Denver’s defense isn’t only tops in points allowed, its ranked second in the league in yards yielded at 2,614. The unit allows the least amount of passing touchdowns (six) and fifth-least rushing scores (five). Denver’s offense, on the other hand, is ranked 22nd in yards gained (2,944) and 31st in passing touchdowns (seven) and 28th in rushing touchdowns (five). In the red zone (at or inside the opponent’s 20-yard line) the Broncos are 32nd in scoring (seven of 20 red zone trips resulted in a touchdown, 35 percent) but first in defending (only six trips out of 21 (28.6 percent) result in a touchdown for the opposition.
Las Vegas’ defense sports the 28th ranking in both points allowed (226) and yards yielded (3,385). The team is ranked 30th in passing touchdowns allowed (17) and 20th in rushing scores allowed (10). Las Vegas’ offense, in comparison, is ranked 14th in points scored (203) and 17th in yards gained (3,016). The unit is 14th in passing touchdowns (13) and 23rd in rushing scores (seven). Red zone wise, the Raiders are ranked 22nd in scoring (14 of 27, 51.9 percent) and 32nd in defense (21 of 29, 72.4 percent).
Do Your Job
The Raiders are at peak broken record sound bites from the press conferences. The E word keeps coming up especially since Las Vegas has shown only brief glimpses of execution.
“They’re not calling a play that they think that the defense is going to stop us on,” Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams said of play caller and head coach McDaniels. “So, at the end of the day, they’re calling the best play that they think is going to work, and then we’ve got to go out there and execute it. Everybody’s got a responsibility, but I’d much rather put the burden on myself because I can control that. I can’t control what the coach is doing, or another player is doing.”
If everybody puts that burden on themselves and it means enough to them to do that, then I feel like that’s when you have a really successful team.”
Finish the Game
Criticize the Raiders defense all you want — it’s certainly warranted. But don’t exclude the team’s offense from the same sharp barbs. Six times the offense has been given the opportunity to win the game. If the Raiders want to get of the losing streak, they’ll need to finish/close out ballgames.
“Every time we’ve been out there, except for the Saints game, we all felt like we had a chance to win and we’re putting ourselves in position,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said. “And so, we’re all buying in not only to schemes, but philosophies on how to play the game. And everyone is learning that, and I think that we want it to happen right now. And we are working on making it happen right now. It just hasn’t happened as fast as we want it to. But in our mind, there’s no doubt that if we keep working that we could do that.”
Sadly for both Denver and Las Vegas, not much is expected from this contest. Both teams are among the league’s worst in the standings and both would need to win the rest of their games to even sniff the postseason. At least in the Raiders corner is a potential Top 5 draft pick on the horizon. The Broncos parted with their 2023 NFL Draft first-round pick to acquire Wilson. Their expected premium pick is in the hands of the Seattle Seahawks.