Raiders hope to finish on high note at Broncos
Now that 2020 is ending without a postseason for the Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos, the teams are looking toward 2021 already.
First, they have to wrap up this schedule and start making decisions for the next one, and that will happen when Las Vegas plays at Denver on Sunday afternoon.
For the Raiders (7-8), their first year in their new home was marked by missed opportunities that cost them a chance to get in the expanded playoff field. Las Vegas is the only team to beat the Kansas City Chiefs this season, but a flat performance against Atlanta and last-second losses to the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins turned what could have been an 11-win season into a mediocre one.
Despite the tough losses, there is a silver lining. Tight end Darren Waller is on the verge of 100 receptions; his 98 catches (for 1,079 yards and eight touchdowns) are just seven shy of Tim Brown’s franchise record and earned him a Pro Bowl selection.
Running back Josh Jacobs is 24 yards from a second straight 1,000-yard rushing season and was also named to the Pro Bowl.
“Oh, they’re great,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of the duo. “(Waller’s) a man that’s on the verge of potentially breaking Tim Brown’s record, one I thought never would be broken. And Josh Jacobs, those are two great building blocks.”
Waller, Jacobs and the rest of the Las Vegas offense could have a big day against Denver’s banged-up defense. Linebacker Bradley Chubb, who was also named to the Pro Bowl, has an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s loss at the Chargers.
Defensive end Shelby Harris (knee) and safety Trey Marshall (quadriceps) are also nursing injuries. Wide receiver KJ Hamler is in the concussion protocol.
The Raiders listed several players on their injury report — tackle Trent Brown (knee), defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder), guard Denzelle Good (ankle), defensive tackle Maurice Hurst (calf) and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner (thigh).
Denver (5-10) failed to reach the postseason for the fifth straight year, matching the drought from 2006-10. The Broncos hoped to see quarterback Drew Lock make a big leap after he had an impressive ending to 2019, but the second-year QB out of Missouri has struggled.
Lock has thrown 15 interceptions and has at least one turnover in 11 straight games, but he hasn’t lost confidence in himself and embraces the pressure of being a franchise quarterback.
“You feel that from Day 1 when you’re playing quarterback for any team,” Lock said Wednesday. “It’s a given pressure that is put on you, but it’s one that I’m excited about. It’s one that I’m going to carry with me into the offseason, so I can have an offseason unlike any other.
“The only thing I need to prove is that we can win a game with me under center. That’s what every quarterback has to prove — take care of the ball, put us in a good position to win the game and finish it out with a win. That’s all I want to do, and that’s all I care to do. However that needs to happen and however it does happen, I’m going to do everything I can to get us that.”
–Field Level Media