And just like that, we’re off to Denver.
Well, technically we don’t fly out to Colorado until Saturday, but you get the point, the Oakland Raiders focus has now shifted to their Week 2 clash with the division rival Denver Broncos.
Taking care of business in the division is paramount, so the Week 2 AFC West showdown is certain to be a good one. The Silver and Black would love to fly home with a “W” so here are six things you should watch for Sunday afternoon at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
1. Can the Raiders put together a quality 60 minutes?
Yes, I know the Silver and Black fell in their 2018 opener to the Los Angeles Rams, and there’s really no such thing as moral victories in the NFL, but we’d be remiss not to mention that the Raiders looked pretty solid in the first half of last week’s game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Heck, they were up a field goal on a team that many consider the class of the NFC.
But, a game is 60 minutes, and after halftime Derek Carr and Co., struggled to get anything going offensively, and the Rams finished the game on a 23-0 run.
Now, the final score of the opener might not be completely indicative of how the game went, but regardless, after a great start to the game, the Raiders struggled to get to the finish line.
The group will need a strong 60 minutes in Denver to notch its first win of 2018; let’s see how things shake out.
2. Von Miller vs. the offensive line
Yes, the Broncos boast a beastly secondary, but let’s be real, when you talk about the Denver defense, every conversation has to start with Von Miller, and for good reason too.
The All-Pro outside linebacker is an absolute monster, and with three sacks and two forced fumbles last week, he started his 2018 campaign with a bang.
As good as Miller is – and yes, dude is really good – he’s going to have his hands full Sunday afternoon going up against a Raiders offensive line he called the best in the game.
Kolton Miller and Donald Penn in particular will likely deal with the brunt of the Miller attack, but to be fair, those two also had a nice start to 2018 last week.
It’s a battle between a premier pass rusher, and guys who get paid big money to keep Derek Carr safe, something’s going to have to give come Sunday.
Let’s get this out of the way right off the top; don’t worry about Amari Cooper, he’s going to be just fine.
That said, will this offense be a little more explosive when “Coop” hauls in more than one pass? Certainly.
Look, I know it’s easy to overact after one game, but I really do believe that Cooper will get his numbers this year, starting Sunday in Denver.
While the Broncos secondary is one of the best in the league, let’s not forget that Amari is also a top wide receiver in his own right.
I’m excited to see how Coach Gruden gets No. 89 involved in the Mile High City.
4. The battle of field position
It’s something that’s flown a little under the radar this week, but I’m excited to see which team wins the battle of field position, with a keen eye on both Marquette King and Johnny Townsend.
After handling the punting duties for the Silver and Black for five seasons, King now resides in Denver, and his old job has been taken by the rookie from the University of Florida.
The two kickers are different in their approach; with his booming leg, King is a pure power kicker, while Townsend relies more on directional punts to get the job done.
It’s always entertaining to watch the football fly when you’re playing at elevation, but make sure you’re watching which punter is more precise with his kicks Sunday afternoon.
5. Will we see the new guys?
Even though we’re just a week into the regular season, there are already a handful of new faces on the Raiders roster, and I have a feeling we’ll see a couple of them hit the field Sunday.
The Silver and Black’s new long snapper Trent Sieg will for sure be one of those players, but I’m excited to see whether or not Johnathan Hankins and Clinton McDonald also make their Raiders debuts.
And of course, we can’t forget The White Tiger himself, Martavis Bryant, who re-joined the Silver and Black earlier this week.
The speedy wide receiver undoubtedly will add another dimension to the Raiders offense, but we’ll have to wait and say if his first game action comes against the Broncos.
6. Does Jared Cook feast again?
Man, Jared Cook started 2018 off in a big way.
Nine catches good for 180 yards, resulting in a franchise record is a pretty good day at the office, and now I’m excited to see if he can replicate that performance on the road.
I’m not saying that Cook needs to have another record-breaking day against the Broncos, but just remember that Denver gave up north of 100 yards to the tight end last week in their Week 1 win.
Cook regularly shows off his value and versatility to the Raiders offense; will Sunday feature more of the same from No. 87?