BRONCOS

Three keys to the Broncos beating the Raiders in Week 6 at Empower Field

Oct 13, 2021, 6:34 AM
Darren Waller...
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos have a good chance of getting back on the winning track in Week 6 against the Las Vegas Raiders. Both teams have a 3-2 record after starting the season 3-0. Even with a similar start, it seems like they will have much different futures in 2021.
T
he Raiders are going to be distracted this week – to say the least – because of their former head coach Jon Gruden retiring amid controversy on Monday. This is going to come into play as the team prepares to travel to Denver to take on the Broncos – and it’s an advantage for Denver.

As per usual on Mondays and Tuesdays during the regular season, I have broken down the coach’s film of the Broncos upcoming opponent. Here are three observations from the Raiders film that could be the keys for a Broncos victory on Sunday.

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Jacobs a Problem

The Broncos defense was gashed by the Steelers rushing attack in Week 5. Rookie running back Najee Harris was able to get his first 100-yard game of his career against the Broncos last week. The former Alabama running back followed in the footsteps of his former college teammate who is now the next runner the Broncos must face.

Raiders running back Josh Jacobs rushed 36 times for 201 yards and four touchdowns in two games against the Denver Broncos last season. He’s got a history of having his best games against the Broncos, and Jacobs will be the first player the Broncos must stop in order to win in Week 6.

The Broncos don’t want Jacobs to be a problem on Sunday. Jacobs can win with power or speed, plus he can be used as a receiver out of the backfield. As the team tries to find their compass, they could turn to Jacobs to lead the way. Running the ball helps settles things down and gets the offense into a rhythm. It also sets up the play-action passing game they can use to attack the Broncos vertically.

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Pain in the Neck

Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (neck) completed 22 of his 35 passes for 206 yards and an interception in a 20-9 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 5. It was revealed that Carr was dealing with pain in his neck following the game.

Carr is a tough quarterback, but neck injuries are tricky to deal with. He has taken on some big hits this year, and Carr will have to be careful against a Broncos rush that can create duress often. I don’t think Carr is shy about getting contacted, so the Broncos must know he will stand in the pocket strong, take a hit and deliver the football downfield.

Carr might be limited this week in practice as he deals with this neck injury. With the Gruden scandal rocking the Raiders this week, the team needs to turn to a leader like Carr. The veteran quarterback could rally the team, and he’s got the big-play capability of attacking the defense deep. That type of big play could haunt the Broncos if they don’t get to Carr quickly.

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The Moss of Tight Ends

Raiders tight end Darren Waller might be the best in the league at his position. A former wide receiver in college, Waller fought addiction problems and had a position switch when coming to the NFL. It took some time, but he emerged as a top target a couple of years ago and shows no signs of slowing down.

The Raiders love to use Waller all over the field. He can line up in-line, from the slot or out wide. Waller is basically a super-sized wide receiver who is too big for safeties to cover and too fast for linebackers to cover. He’s the best player on the team and should be featured often against the Broncos defense.

The Broncos have historically struggled to cover tight ends, and Waller represents the biggest challenge the team has faced so far in 2021. The way the choose to cover Waller will determine their success on Sunday. He’s the type of player who can take over a game and put the Raiders offense on his shoulders.

They may choose to have safety Justin Simmons cover Waller. Rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain might also be tasked with covering the superstar tight end. However, it would be foolish if the Broncos put any of their linebackers (like Alexander Johnson) on Waller for a single snap. If they choose that plan for coverage, then Waller could have a monster game against the Broncos on Sunday.

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