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Raiders-Broncos: 5 things to watch for as Las Vegas tries to avoid starting 0-4

The 2-1 Broncos visit Allegiant Stadium on Sunday

Denver Broncos vs San Francisco 49ers
Russell Wilson
Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders are desperate for a win after starting the season 0-3 and have to figure out a way to beat the 2-1 Denver Broncos Sunday at Allegiant Stadium. Kickoff is 1:25 p.m. PT.

Let’s look at five keys to the game for the Raiders:

Execute better;

Yes, it’s as simple as that and it begins here. From listening to coach Josh McDaniels and quarterback Derek Carr after the loss to Tennessee last week, it is clear, the lack of execution and sloppy play is something that is also happening at practice. The Raiders haven’t won yet because they simply haven’t done enough good things in any game yet. The problems are varied and are on both sides of the ball. But if Las Vegas can clean up simple mistakes like dropped balls and fewer penalties and missed assignments, the Raiders will give themselves a bunch better chance of beating the Broncos, who have been the opposite of the Raiders. Denver has managed to have a winning record despite being out of sorts on offense.

Las Vegas Raiders v Tennessee Titans
Davante Adams
Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images

Get Davante Adams rolling:

We all know that the Raiders haven’t been able to take advantage of the presence of star wide receiver Davante Adams yet. He has just seven catches for 48 yards in the past two games combined. This is on McDaniels to figure this out. Yes, the Raiders have other problems on offense, including the red zone, third down and a lack of overall balance, but Adams is usually the best player on the field. That has to pay off for the Raiders.

Red-zone offense:

This is alarming. We all know the Raiders had big trouble inside the opponent’s 20-yard line during the Jon Gruden era. That was supposed to change this year with McDaniels calling the plays and Adams in the offense. But the problem has persisted. Quarterback Derek Carr and the offense just can’t consistently find the end zone. They were 2-for-6 in the red zone against the Titans and it’s a major reason why they fell to 0-3. That needs to change now. but it won’t be easy. The Denver’s defense has been excellent and it a big reason why it is 2-1.

The Raiders’ play in the red-zone may decide this game,

Get to Russell Wilson:

This is the Raiders’ first game against Wilson as a division opponent. Making him uncomfortable is key. The truth is Wilson and the Broncos offense has been extremely uneven this season thus far and new head coach Nathaniel Hackett has struggled in his role as well. But as he showed in the fourth quarter against San Francisco on Sunday, Wilson can still make winning plays. The Raiders haven’t have much pressure on quarterbacks thus far and have just two Maxx Crosby sacks on the season. New Las Vegas pass-rusher Chandler Jones has been a no-show thus far, but he had had recent success against Wilson in when he was with Arizona and Wilson was a Seahawk. Perhaps that experience will ignite Jones’ Raiders’ tenure.

Las Vegas Raiders v Tennessee Titans
Darren Waller
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Use the tight ends:

While Denver’s defense has been excellent, they have had some struggles against the tight end with standout safety Justin Simmons out injured. It was a tough game last week for Raiders’ star tight end Darren Waller struggled against the Titans last week with three drops and he’s had a fairly slow start to the season as he has 13 catches for 11.6 yards per catch.

The Raiders’ offense did have success with Waller and backup tight end Foster Moreau (who has been hurt this week) in Week 2 against Arizona, which also struggles against the tight end. So, McDaniels needs to get his tight ends involved against Denver.