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WEEK 1 @ OAK TOWN

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Good Morrow, Scholars. 

 

It's WEEK ONE. At the biggest dump in sports!!!! I won't be able to watch this because I have to get up @ 5 am EST. It won't get done until maybe 2 am EST. I'm going to list some of my key matchups for us against them below!

 

1st match up- Shelby Harris vs Rodney Hudson- Rodney Hudson is one of the best pass blocking Centers in the league. Shelby Harris is an average pass rushing NT. But the key here will be in the run game.  Chubb and  Von can tee off on Kolton Miller, who's garbage, and Trent Brown, who's average. The Raiders have a clear advantage here running the ball downhill because there interior Offensive Line can handle Harris and get to Davis + Josey Jewell. 

 

2nd match up-  Antonio Brown vs Chris Harris- Sure, they're both elite players and top 3 at their positions, but I still have nightmares of when Antonio Brown ROASTED Chris Harris not long ago. Besides Brown, the Raiders have no huge threat on the outside, but Brown is enough. Harris needs to play up the raise he got this year and for the one he wants next year. Put your money where your mouth is Chris, and don't let Brown roast you again.

 

3rd match up- Whoever is covering Jalen Richard and Darren Waller- These are the kind of guys that absolutely murdered us last year. Did Todd Davis magically gain coverage skills in the offseason? I doubt it. Will Parks was mediocre at trying last year and Josey Jewell is a sure-drag down tackler who can't shed blocks or cover well. Someone needs to step up for us. Justin Hollins? Parks? Simmons? We shall see.

 

4th match up- Garrett Bolles + Jawaun James vs Arden Key and Clelin Ferrell- James is supposedly one of the 3 best pass blocking RTs in the game. This isn't much of a test for him, or it shouldn't be, but I think we may see the opposite given our luck. Bolles is a train wreck. Will he make Ferrell look like a superstar after Mayock and Gruden reached on him? Or will he shut him down? My bets are on Bolles making Mayock and Gruden look like geniuses. 

 

 

Our starting line up-

QB-Joe Flacco

RB- Phillip Lindsay

WR- Courtland Sutton

WR- Emmanuel Sanders

TE- Jeff Heuerman

TE- Noah Fant

LT- Garrett Trash

LG- Dalton Risner

C- Connor Mcgovern

RG- IRon Leary

RT- Jawaun James

 

LE- Derek Wolfe

NT- Shelby Harris 

RE- Adam Gotsis

OLB- Bradley Chubb

ILB- Josey Jewell

ILB- Todd Davis

OLB- Von Miller

CB- Chris Harris

CB- Bryce Callahan

FS- Justin Simmons

SS- Kareem Jackson

 

QB- Derek Carr

RB- Josh Jacobs

FB- Alec Ingold

WR- Antonio Brown

WR- Tyrell Williams 

LT- Kolton Miller

LG- Jonathan Cooper

C- Rodney Hudson

RG- Gabe Jackson

RT- Trent Brown

TE- Darren Waller

 

DE- Arden Key

DT- PJ Hall

DT- Jonathan Hankins

DE- Clelin Ferrell

SLB- Tahir Whitehead

MLB- Vontaze Burfict

WLB- Nick Morrow

CB- Gareon Conley

CB- Daryl Worley

FS- Lamarcus Joyner

SS- Karl Joseph

Edited by BullsandBroncos

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Nice writeup! I definitely agree with your matchups to watch. 

- AB vs Chris Harris is the obvious one, but it carries so many different dynamics. If we can force the Raiders into 3rd and 5+ it will give us the opportunity to throw all sorts of pass rush at Derek Carr. He's shown time after time he doesn't perform well in a muddied pocket.
However, if the Raiders have anything about them, they will go after that matchup early in downs and try and catch us in run defensive alignments (thus leaving more space with which AB has to work CHJ).

- Another added benefit of us forcing 3rd and long is linked to something you mentioned; it allows us to get smaller, quick defenders to cover the Raiders RB/TE's. If we are in 3rd and long, we can afford to bring in extra DBs (Will Parks, for example) to cover even RBs out of the backfield because there is little/no chance of us facing a run play. However, if we find ourselves in 3rd and short then we can't bring in those lighter bodies, thus leaving unfavourable matchups for us vs TEs and RBs out of the backfield.
Again, if the Raiders have anything about them (or any Offense in the NFL, frankly) they will try out these matchups in early downs vs run defensive alignments, ala what the Patriots do time after time, year after year.

- 3rd down efficiency on Offense is a huge key. This team isn't good enough to get explosive plays to put up the 24-27 points or so average that you need to win football games in the NFL. We need to be sharp with our execution in the inevitable 3rd down positions we're going to be in. Sure, being in 3rd and short would help, but the fact is that NFL Offense's will encounter 3rd down passing situations every game and we need to improve in all facets from last year in this situation, most notably at QB and our pass pro (I am looking at you, Garrett).

I would be surprised if this anything other than a really tight game. Whilst our Defense is better on paper, there are some new parts and a new scheme to it and I fear the Raiders have more explosion on Offense.

I don't like predictions, but I will go Raiders 16-13. Ugh. 

 

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The Raiders are starting 2 backups up RG and LG. Trent Brown is not an average RT. If you're going to jock James, you have to respect Brown is a better pass and run blocker. 

I like Chris Harris, but he's not a top 3 CB in the league. He's borderline top 10, 30 years old and coming off injury. The Raiders have a threat opposite AB in Trent Brown on the outside and some talent in the slot. 

I expect however the Raiders to test your LBs in coverage with short quick throws to take pressure off Carr and not let Chubb and Miller to get going. 

The Raiders defense is a big question mark. Secondary is talented, but front 7 isn't going to produce much pressure.

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Im guessing, BP meant Tyrell Williams as the other threat.. Mot trent brown ha.

 

This is an interesting game for both teams. Dont see either making the playoffs, but it is a must win for both teams if they want a chance IMO.

Hopefully both teams get through with no significant injuries.

I fear for Dereks health during bronco weeks : (

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3 hours ago, big_palooka said:

The Raiders are starting 2 backups up RG and LG. Trent Brown is not an average RT. If you're going to jock James, you have to respect Brown is a better pass and run blocker. 

I like Chris Harris, but he's not a top 3 CB in the league. He's borderline top 10, 30 years old and coming off injury. The Raiders have a threat opposite AB in Trent Brown on the outside and some talent in the slot. 

I expect however the Raiders to test your LBs in coverage with short quick throws to take pressure off Carr and not let Chubb and Miller to get going. 

The Raiders defense is a big question mark. Secondary is talented, but front 7 isn't going to produce much pressure.

Easy top 5, that is indeed his age, and he was 100% healed from that injury when the regular season ended last year. 

Also think you're using talented a bit liberally when describing your secondary, though compared to your front 7 it's an All-Pro group. 

Edited by BroncoBruin

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Kind of like getting this game out of the way. This rivalry is boring when both teams suck.

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I definitely expect a total score somewhere in the 30s. I assume the Raiders will play ball control style, try to stack up those 4-6 yard runs and short passes. They probably won't take many risks and they can win doing that. The Broncos NEED to hit on those chunk plays to win this game IMO. A screen pass to a RB, one of the RBs getting some daylight on the zone stretch, and of course the PA boot. I feel good about our chances if we can connect on a few big plays. It's too hard to consistently convert 3rd downs on the road to not get those "guarantee 3 points" plays. 

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1 hour ago, BroncoBruin said:

Easy top 5, that is indeed his age, and he was 100% healed from that injury when the regular season ended last year. 

Also think you're using talented a bit liberally when describing your secondary, though compared to your front 7 it's an All-Pro group. 

Slot CB, sure. Outside... Ramsey, Peterson, Howard, Gilmore, Slay, Fuller, Jones...maybe Ward, Lattimore.

Raiders secondary has potential is the right word. They have a lot of young talents there but they have to put it together. 

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How you guys feeling about Flacco? Expecting a resurgence for him or more of what got him replaced in Baltimore?

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9 minutes ago, big_palooka said:

Slot CB, sure. Outside... Ramsey, Peterson, Howard, Gilmore, Slay, Fuller, Jones...maybe Ward, Lattimore.

Raiders secondary has potential is the right word. They have a lot of young talents there but they have to put it together. 

Harris' coverage numbers are just as good outside (when the team is in base) as inside, he's just clearly the best slot CB in the league so he logs most of his time there.

Sure, I think Conley and Abram could be good players. I'm not sure that group has a difference maker though. We'll see. 

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4 minutes ago, big_palooka said:

How you guys feeling about Flacco? Expecting a resurgence for him or more of what got him replaced in Baltimore?

Below average but not disastrous QB play is what I expect. Not the Flacco who played under Kubiak but better than that ugly 2015-2017 stretch when that Ravens offense was really a mess. The answer is still "not good enough" and a playoff run is really only possible if the defense is special. 

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I expect Flacco to be like Manning in our super bowl year, except for the part where he can read the defense well enough to keep us out of bad situations.

 

Anyone that thinks this is a compliment to Manning is high. He was absolutely atrocious our SB year in 2015. 

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6 hours ago, big_palooka said:

The Raiders are starting 2 backups up RG and LG. Trent Brown is not an average RT. If you're going to jock James, you have to respect Brown is a better pass and run blocker. 

I like Chris Harris, but he's not a top 3 CB in the league. He's borderline top 10, 30 years old and coming off injury. The Raiders have a threat opposite AB in Trent Brown on the outside and some talent in the slot. 

I expect however the Raiders to test your LBs in coverage with short quick throws to take pressure off Carr and not let Chubb and Miller to get going. 

The Raiders defense is a big question mark. Secondary is talented, but front 7 isn't going to produce much pressure.

Chris Harris has better all around defensive metrics than all but maybe 2 players in the league in coverage and best in the slot. He's top 3.

Trent Brown is slightly worse than James at pass blocking and maybe a little better in the run game since he's morbidly obese.

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It's a pick 'em game for Vegas, which is for good reason, given our OL, O 3rd down / RZ inefficiencies, incredibly short time as a 1st team unit on O, and our well-documented ILB woes in pass coverage, and of course, being on the road.  

On the other hand, our DL & secondary look to be much-improved, and while I have serious doubts on Flacco as a difference-making QB, he's likely to be a fair bit better than Case Keenum was last year for us.   And a year's experience for Sutton & Hamilton, and the presence of a TE threat in Fant, should help us be a lot more diverse.

Reasons why we'll win:

1.  Our run game will help Flacco set up play-action with Sanders, Sutton and Hamilton.  The lack of established pass rush from OAK is a real advantage, provided our OL can hold up.

2.  Our pass rush is still our best asset, and that's a real problem for OAK's OL, and a shell-shocked Derek Carr.

3.  Fangio's scheme really emphasizes DB's facing the ball, and so creates a lot more TO opportunities.   We know Bryce Callahan is well-suited to this, and early returns on Justin Simmons & Bausby/Yiadom show they really are taking to the scheme as well. 

4.  Fangio's approach has been far more direct, no-nonsense, and results-oriented.   And it's pretty clear Rich Scangarelli is trying to be different and more varied in the O scheme.   Which is sorely needed.   Fangio/Scangarelli may not succeed here in DEN, but they certainly doesn't give the feeling that we are sorely outmatched in the coaching dep't, like we did right from the start with Vance Joseph & Mike McCoy / VJ & Musgrave (whose lack of adaptability / creativity was disappointing after really doing great things in OAK as OC).

 

Reasons why we'll lose:

1.  AB is still AB, and while Harris is still an elite CB - AB's skill set gives him fits.   The other X-factor in the passing game - Darren Waller at TE.  He's a huge matchup problem with our ILB's, the Q is whether or not the OL will give Carr enough time to get the ball out on time (Carr takes so few sacks, but often throws it away, if the opening isn't there - a stark contrast to the Carr from 3-4 years ago).

2.  The other new weapon, RB Josh Jacobs, poses a 2nd threat to our ILB pass coverage woes besides Waller.    And when he's out, Jalen Richard is a nimble little pass catcher.  While I am unconvinced giving Jon Gruden complete org control (and basically running personnel with Mike Mayock at his side, rather than the GM being in charge), I cannot deny he designs up a helluva great game plan.  It's why they nearly pulled off the week 2 road upset (and really, if their ILB-turned-FB doesn't drop that easy 4th down pass, they probably do).   So I would expect Gruden looking for ways to isolate Waller & Jacobs vs. our ILB's relentlessly.

3.  Our OL really struggled, and didn't gel at all.  I have total confidence in Mike Munchak long-term, but his impact is almost always felt year 2 - and in our case, he needs actual clay to mold.  The fact that we had to bring in OL off waivers to fill our top 8 shows how thin our talent is there.    Maybe we get there eventually, but Sept could be really rough.  In theory, OAK should provide as good of a situation to succeed as possible, but man, it's been worrisome to watch the OL to say the least.

4.  Our ST play was awful.   Wadman was terrible, and our coverage was nonexistent.    In close games, that 3rd unit can turn the field position game to where it's the difference.


Since we're on the road, really we're slight favorites.  And our best units give their worst units big problems.  But in ANY intra-divisional games, all bets are off, and it's on the road, with a HC who's excellent at game prep.   

Realistically, we're not likely to do better than go 5-3 or 6-2 at home - so you need to win some road games to even sniff 8-8.  This is a very winnable game (duh), but a L and man, it gets hard to see a path to .500.   One week doesn't make a season, but it should be a great barometer to see what progress we've made on O, our OL (this again is perhaps the best matchup we'll get all year), and if there's any hope with our ILB play.

I'll call it 20-17.....don't ask me yet which team wins lol.  Injuries will play a huge role here, so the pre-MNF actives/inactives are going to be essential.

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