Davante Adams

Davante Adams

Jack Dempsey / AP Photo

Raiders receiver Davante Adams scores the winning touchdown against the Broncos on November 20, 2022.

• Who: Raiders at Broncos

• When:1:25 p.m.

• Where: Empower Field at Mile High

• TV: KLAS, CBS Channel 8

• Radio: Raider Nation Radio 920 AM, KOMP 92.3

• Betting line: Broncos -3.5, over/under 44

The Raiders get the opportunity to spoil the party of one of their biggest rivals to open their fourth season since moving to Las Vegas.

This might be the most anticipated Broncos’ season since 2015 when future Hall of Famers Von Miller and Peyton Manning led the team to a Super Bowl victory. Optimism is stretching a mile high after Denver landed the most prized available coach, longtime New Orleans Saints head Sean Payton, in the offseason.

He’s tasked with turning around quarterback Russell Wilson, who struggled in his first season with the Broncos a year ago.

The hype isn’t much unlike the kind the Raiders received a year ago when coach Josh McDaniels arrived in town and immediately helped lure a pair of major veteran acquisitions in edge rusher Chandler Jones and wide receiver Davante Adams.

Jones is now away from the team after lashing out at McDaniels via social media earlier this week. But Adams is expected to retain his spot as one of the top receivers in the NFL as long as he can mesh with new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Both teams have changed a lot, but the AFC West divisional hostility remains.  

Favorable matchup: Josh Jacobs vs. Broncos’ rush defense 

Denver’s rush defense hasn’t been a weakness in general recently, ranking around average to slightly above average in the NFL over the last four seasons, but it certainly has been against Jacobs. The fifth-year running back, and last year’s NFL rushing-yards leader, has gained a mammoth 879 yards from scrimmage against Denver — by far his most against any opponent both in total and by average. Jacobs has three straight 100-yard rushing performances against the Broncos, and four all-time. He can’t explain why so many of his best days have come against the Broncos, and neither can they, but he feels like he can build on the success to start this season despite missing all of training camp. Jacobs returned to the Raiders less than two weeks ago after a prolonged contract dispute when the two sides agreed to an incentive-laden, one-year $12 million deal. McDaniels hasn’t promised that Jacobs will get a full workload after missing so much practice time, but Payton and his players say they’re preparing for it.

Problematic matchup: Payton’s offense vs. Raiders’ pass defense 

Raiders’ rookie cornerback Jakorian Bennett, a fourth-round pick out of Maryland, is likely to get a trial by fire for his first NFL game. The expected outside starter on the opposite side of veteran newcomer Marcus Peters, Bennett looks like a typical target for Payton, who runs a quick, horizontal passing offense that preys on mismatches. Las Vegas believes it’s improved in the defensive backfield after having one of the league’s worst units a year ago but will have to immediately prove it. The hope mostly rests in veteran newcomers Peters and strong safety Marcus Epps, who was voted a team captain after coming over from the Philadelphia Eagles this offseason. Slot cornerback Nate Hobbs and free safety Tre’von Moehrig both took a step back in their second season a year ago, but they’ve raved about chemistry with Epps and Peters bringing out the best in them. The lightning-fast Bennett has all the physical tools to excel but struggled with penalties and play-recognition in college.    

Click to enlarge photo

Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson, left, poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after being chosen by the Las Vegas Raiders with the seventh overall pick during the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.

Gamebreaker: Edge rusher Tyree Wilson 

A spotlight is always placed on a top-10 draft pick going into his professional debut, but the one on the Raiders’ No. 7 overall pick out of Texas Tech will now increase with Jones estranged from the team. The plan was to ease Wilson in so he could learn from the pair of Pro Bowlers at his position, Jones and Maxx Crosby, but he’ll no longer have that luxury. The Raiders need Wilson to produce and make opponents think twice before incessantly double-teaming Crosby right away. It’s a tall task, especially since Wilson missed most of training camp while recovering from a foot injury. Crosby hinted that third-year depth rusher Malcolm Koonce could end up playing more or just as much as Wilson. Koonce may be a solid option, but he doesn’t have the same game-wrecking potential as the 6-foot-6, 275-pound Wilson. “(Expletive), I prepare every day like everybody else. It’s the next man up mentality. No matter what, I’ve got to put the best out there for my brothers,” Wilson said.   


“He’s hard to bring down. He is looking for contact and those yards after contact. It’s a pretty tough task because he’s such a great back, but we’ve got a plan and the guys that can stop him.” 

— Broncos All-Pro cornerback Patrick Surtain II on Jacobs 

“Having a key piece of your football team around, it’s going to naturally boost everybody’s mood, their willingness to come to work…It gives the team a little extra juice.”  — Adams on the change he’s noticed around the Raiders since Jacobs returned 

“I wanted to get (No. 8) last year, but they wanted to charge me $3.5 (million) for it, so I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going to do that.’ But, man, all my life, that’s the number I’ve always worn. It’s just the number I feel like brings out something different in me. Even in college, I feel like I took a leap in that number.” — Jacobs explaining why he switched from jersey No. 28 to No. 8 for this season, and why it was delayed because of the NFL’s requirement for players to buy all remaining inventory of old jersey numbers 

“My favorite to this day was, ‘‘B’ was in the league when Jesus created the game of football.’ That’s my favorite, but the jokes get outrageous more and more.”  — Brandon Bolden on the constant teasing he faces from his teammates as the ultra-rare running back who’s made it to an 11th season in the NFL 

Big Number: 1,351.

That’s how many days have passed since the last time the Broncos defeated the Raiders. Denver’s most recent win in the series came in the 2019 regular-season finale when it prevailed 16-15 after Hunter Renfrow couldn’t haul in a two-point conversion pass from Derek Carr in the final seconds. Only five players on the Raiders’ current active roster (Renfrow, Crosby, left tackle Kolton Miller, kicker Daniel Carlson and punter A.J. Cole) even played in the game. Jacobs was on the team but sat out of the meaningless contest with both teams eliminated from playoff contention coming in. That means the Broncos haven’t beaten the Raiders once since the latter relocated from Oakland to Las Vegas. Largely as a result of their struggles against Las Vegas, Denver has finished last in the AFC West for three straight years. The Raiders are picked to finish in that spot this year, but the projection will flip if they can pull of an upset to start the season.    

Click to enlarge photo

Las Vegas Raiders kicker Daniel Carlson (2) watches the ball go through the uprights for a field goal during the second half of an NFL football game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Allegiant Stadium Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023.

Best Bet (0-0): Daniel Carlson over 5.5 kicking points 

The Raiders have long-running red-zone woes, and they’re not necessarily going to be fixed this season even though two tight-end sets featuring veteran Austin Hooper and rookie Michael Mayer may be a part of the solution. McDaniels lands on the conservative end of the NFL-coaching spectrum and has traditionally settled for field goal attempts more often than his peers. He’s got one of the surest kickers in the NFL in Carlson, and Denver is notoriously conducive to successful field-goal kicking because of its elevation. Carlson could easily knock through a pair of field goals and not even need any extra points to clear this number. This prop opened juiced at -120 (i.e. risking $120 to win $100) but represents value up to -150.   

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Mike McNamara

Mike McNamara

A Las Vegas Realtor since 2008. Mike has a wide range of knowledge around all things Las Vegas.

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