Broncos, Raiders try to stay alive in AFC playoff hunt
The Denver Broncos have slim hopes of reaching the playoffs after a home loss to Cincinnati last week. They likely have to win their final three games and get some help to slip into the postseason for the first time in six years.
And they will have to do their part with a backup quarterback starting at the Las Vegas Raiders on Sunday.
Head coach Vic Fangio announced Wednesday that Drew Lock will get the start for Teddy Bridgewater, who left the loss to the Bengals with a concussion. Lock, the Broncos’ No. 1 quarterback last year, lost the job to Bridgewater in preseason and has seen limited action in 2021.
He led Denver (7-7) on its only touchdown drive of the game in the 15-10 loss to Cincinnati but also had a costly fumble in the red zone. He will have a full week of reps with the first-team offense ahead of the game at Las Vegas.
“The only thing that’s really going to change this week is that I’m actually going to be out there taking the reps,” Lock said Wednesday. “My prep that I’ve done throughout the week as a backup — I’m still going to take it to the next level with being the starter, but most of my planning throughout the week and what I’ve done prepping-wise is probably going to stay the same. I may even amp it up a little bit with now being able to take real practice reps.”
Fangio said Bridgewater will be the starter when he is healthy. Bridgewater, along with defensive lineman Shamar Stephen (knee) and Dre’Mont Jones (foot), linebacker Kenny Young (concussion), running back Melvin Gordon III (thumb/hip) and safety Kareem Jackson (back) didn’t practice Wednesday while Mike Boone, PJ Locke and Malik Reed were activated from the COVID-19/reserve list.
The Raiders are coming off a last-second win at Cleveland on Monday, a game that was moved back two days because of COVID-19 issues with the Browns. The victory was tempered with the shoulder injury to safety Johnathan Abram, who was scheduled to undergo season-ending surgery. Then on Wednesday cornerback Brandon Facyson was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list, eroding the secondary depth.
Las Vegas receiver Zay Jones (toe), linebacker Denzel Perryman (ankle), tight end Darren Waller (knee/back), defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins (back) and running back Josh Jacobs (illness) didn’t take part in the walk through on Wednesday.
Although the teams have the same record, Las Vegas is in a better position to reach the playoffs after the 16-14 win at Cleveland. The Raiders play two of their last three games at home and have a better conference record.
“We’re 7-7. We are what our record is. We just have to take it one at a time,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said after Monday’s win. “This was a big step on the road, no matter what it is. We had some guys out. They had some guys out, and we got a win. We found a way. So we got Denver next week. We need to lock back in. We’ve only got six days to recover. We’re excited about the challenge.”
–Field Level Media