By: Kevin Le
The Las Vegas Raiders will finish their season in an AFC West rivalry game against the Denver Broncos. At 7-8, the Raiders end their season missing the playoffs after being 6-4 a month ago with high hopes. Head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock will not get their winning season just yet. This game will serve as an audition for many players on the bubble heading into the offseason. With not much on the line for the Raiders expect the players to give it their all in the finale. Leaving Denver with a win will give the organization some momentum heading into an important offseason. In a rivalry game like this, records don’t matter because these teams do not like each other. The Raiders will leave Denver as a winner or be extending their losing streak to four games.
At 6-4, the Raiders had one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NFL and looked like a playoff contender. This was the same case last season where they couldn’t finish their season strong enough to make it. Currently being 7-8 was the last thought in anyone’s mind a month after a close loss to the Chiefs. To give any hope to this fan base and gain confidence, the Raiders will need to win on Sunday. Ending up 8-8 at .500 will be much better than 7-9 which would result in another losing season. This game will not hold weight towards the playoff race but can set the tone for the offseason. The Raiders need to show heart, grit, and determination in their season finale matchup against the Broncos. Finishing strong with a win will a long way than most players think.
Keys to Victory
In a game like this, not much has to be said because players know the bragging rights on the line. Coach Gruden will need some key players to step up on Sunday to come out of Denver victorious. On the offensive side of the ball, it starts with Josh Jacobs and finishes with Darren Waller. The Raiders have two pro bowlers this season and they are Jacobs and Waller both on offense. Defensively is where the Raiders struggle mightily, but last week showed some great flashes rushing the quarterback. There were a couple of defensive lapses last week that cost the Raiders a win. Maxx Crosby will need to generate sacks and Trayvon Mullen will have to be stout in the secondary. A complete clean game will need to be played for the Raiders to win against a struggling Broncos team.
The Raider’s high-power offense going against the 19th ranked defense in the Broncos will have an explosive showing. The offense has been consistent throughout the year, but the defense will have to play its best this Sunday to win. The defense ranked at 24th will be going against a struggling Broncos offense who is 27th in the NFL. Getting to Drew Lock will lead to more sacks and turnovers on defense. Expect Maxx Crosby to get his hands on Lock and Trayvon Mullen to play his best football all season. Derek Carr will feed his playmakers such as Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. Jon Gruden’s group will come into Denver, motivated, and play inspired football. Ending the season 8-8 will be a disappointment but will show the many holes that need to be filled. The final score will read 21-7, giving the Raiders their last win of 2020.