1) Back to back in the third
One of the most pleasant late season surprises has been the emergence of two rookies that were drafted one after the other.
Malcolm Koonce and Divine Deablo were selected by the Raiders with the 79th and 80th picks of the 2021 NFL Draft and entered the season with big expectations. They both spent the first half adjusting to the NFL and working their ways to get on the field – with the door of opportunity being opened up to them due to injuries. In the past three games, Koonce has racked up two sacks, while Deablo has 25 total tackles and has become a top run-stopper in Gus Bradley's defense.
Expect both of those rookies to make the most of their chances given to them before the end of their rookie campaign.
2) The Slot Machine approaching history
Hunter Renfrow is on pace to not only finish with his best statical season in the NFL so far, but one of the best for a receiver in Raiders' history.
The dynamic slot receiver is inching up on the 1,000 receiving yard mark and the 100 catch mark for the season. Heading into the Broncos game, he stands at 909 yards and 89 catches. Additionally, he's 19 catches away from breaking the franchise reception record in a season, which Waller had just broke last season with 107 catches.
Renfrow is currently averaging nearly 65 receiving yards and over six catches a game this season – putting him on pace to reach both of those milestones before the end of the year. He could even very well break the 1,000-yard threshold in Allegiant Stadium this Sunday afternoon.
3) Will we see Perryman back to making hits?
Although ruled as questionable going into Sunday's game, Denzel Perryman is expected to return from his ankle injury that sidelined him for two games. The linebacker was a limited participant in practice Thursday and Friday and gave an optimistic prediction of his availability last week to the media.
Despite missing two games, he's still third in the NFL in solo tackles (85), proving why he was selected to appear in the 2022 Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.
"Just my history in general, just being injured not playing a full season – that kind of irks me a little bit," said Perryman. "But at the same time, it's football and I'm getting better. Not too much of a frustration, but it's a great frustration not being out there period."
4) Last-minute losses
Unfortunately, the Raiders will have to do without their starting wideout and dual-threat backup quarterback. Bryan Edwards and Marcus Mariota were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list hours before kickoff.
5) Last-minute additions
While Edwards and Mariota have been put on the COVID-19 list prior to kickoff, the Raiders were able to get two talented rookies back.
Nate Hobbs and Tyree Gillespie were activated of the COVID-19 list and IR, respectively, Saturday afternoon. Both will be beneficial in the gameplan against the Broncos. Hobbs has had a dynamic rookie season so far at the nickel cornerback position – racking up 63 total tackles, two pass deflections and an interception with a 78.6 PFF grade. Gillespie should see an uptick in snaps at safety as Johnathan Abram has been ruled out and Roderic Teamer is on the COVID/Reserve list.
"He very well could [play] now with some of the things that we've got going on. So, there is another man that has worked hard at preparing," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said regarding Tyree Gillespie. "Now, there is opportunity to go out there and add to this team. There are high expectations. ... But I always believed that when there's expectations like that you generally rise to level of expectation as a whole. So, to have those expectations on them, if Gillespie gets in there, and he very well could, I believe he'll rise to it because that's just generally how it works."
6) Locked in
The Raiders defense have had to adjust this week in preparing for a different quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater was ruled out early in the week with a concussion, so Drew Lock will get the start for the Broncos. Nevertheless, the Silver and Black are very familiar with Lock and what he can do with the ball in his hands. The former Missouri Tiger threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns the last time he played the Raiders in last year's regular season finale.
"Quarterback is a little bit different than the quarterback we played against last time," Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia said. "He [Drew Lock] can throw the ball down the field. He makes all the throws. He's a physical, strong guy. And we're expecting a tough game coming in here."
As the Raiders prepare to host the Denver Broncos at Allegiant Stadium, view past matchups of the Silver and Black hosting their division rival.