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Las Vegas Raiders Defeat Broncos For The Eighth Straight Time

Photo credit:  Wikipedia

They say that in order to create a habit one should do something for twenty-one straight days. With their latest victory over the Denver Broncos, the Las Vegas Raiders could be on the right track.

Entering the 2023-24 season there was a lot of optimism in the Denver sports leagues that the Broncos would be able to turn things around from a dismal 5-12 record last year. While the team mathematically did improve, posting an 8-9 record, their best since the 2016-17 season, it seemed as though the Broncos continued to struggle to keep their heads above water.

On Sunday, the Broncos dropped their eighth straight game to the Raiders, losing a lopsided affair 27-14. The Raiders’ victory saw both teams finish with a similar 8-9 record, tied for second in the AFC West, but that’s where the similarity ends as the Raiders’ season sweep extended their dominance over their divisional foe to a fourth straight year.

So why is it that the Broncos struggle so mightily against the Raiders? If one wanted to look deeper at their head-to-head record over the past decade, the Raiders have won nine of their last ten games and thirteen of the past twenty meetings. In fact, the last time the Broncos were able to win a season series, you would have to travel all the way back to 2017 when the Raiders still resided in Oakland.

Raiders Seal Another Defeat Over The Broncos

Clearly a tale of two franchises headed in different directions, Sunday’s game featured a Broncos team that has no true starting quarterback, very little draft capital, and even less wiggle room financially. On the other hand, the Raiders may have found their next head coach in Antonio Pierce, their defense finished the season as one of the best in the league and had a revitalized cornerback in Jack Jones.

With former starting quarterback Russell Wilson on the sidelines in a crisp, clean Broncos uniform, Jarrett Stidham did his best to help the Broncos close out the season on a winning note and possibly secure a job for next season. As a fifth-year backup, Stidham is now on his third team following three years in New England, and last season with the Raiders.

Ironically, rumors have begun to swirl about Wilson heading to Las Vegas as their starting quarterback for the 2024 season after the Broncos’ front office made it clear that he is no longer a part of whatever future plans they have for turning the team around.

Stidham finished the game with 272 yards, throwing for one touchdown, and an interception, and was on the receiving end of five sacks and eleven hits by the Raiders defensive unit.

Broncos Struggles Were Evident

According to coach Payton, there were many areas, including the offensive line, that could have been better. The efforts of Cam Flemming (right tackle), Ben Powers (guard), Quinn Meinerz (guard), and Lloyd Cushenberry (center) were minimal at best, proving that Wilson wasn’t 100% at fault for the offensive struggles this season.

“I thought we lost in a lot of areas tonight. I felt like they ran better than us. They protected better than us. Our quarterback was under a lot more duress than theirs. You can point to a number of things.”

As for Stidham’s options, all three running backs, Javonte Williams, Jaleel McLaughlin, and Samaje Perine looked like they were just plodding through mud all afternoon, hardly making a positive impact.

Thankfully the Broncos receivers had a better outing as Jerry Jeudy’s quickness and ability proved why he is the Broncos’ number one target, regardless of who is slinging the ball. Brandon Johnson, who is in just his second season finished the schedule out strong. Although he was held scoreless, the UCF alum posted 4 catches for 88 yards, including one 36-yard highlight in the first half.

However, the offense wasn’t entirely to blame on Sunday as the defense had an equally bad outing. Unlike the early part of the schedule, the ball-stopping core seemed to fizzle as the season came to a close, and on Sunday it just fell flat. Poor tackling, an inability to rush the passer, and an inability to force turnovers led to the Raiders controlling the game from wire to wire.

Held scoreless in both the first and third quarters, the Broncos came out flat at both the start of the game and after halftime. For fans who had higher hopes for Sean Payton’s first season, ending it with a whimper certainly wasn’t what they had hoped for. Yes, the loss put the Broncos in a position for a better draft pick, but otherwise, the game was essentially meaningless as the playoff seeding was already decided.

If fans are looking for a silver lining, the offseason should be very eventful and interesting in Broncos Country.

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