NFL

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW Sun: Denver Broncos @ Las Vegas Raiders

Two franchises that rang the changes in the off season brought in new head coaches and a notable offensive player but so far it’s fair to say that in the words of Bono and U2 “they still haven’t found what they are looking for.”

Denver are at least 2-1 with former Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson seemingly struggling within the offensive system that rookie head coach Nathaniel Hackett has installed with Wilson yet to record a multiple touchdown game within the stuttering Broncos offence. Despite all of that the Broncos have managed to win back-to-back games after a disappointing Week 1 loss. The most recent win was a weird 11-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night in just the second NFL game in history to end with that score.

Most of all Hackett has made some very poor calls offensively and appears to be struggling a little with his first head coaching gig. It hasn’t escaped the notice of his critics that despite spending big to bring Wilson to Denver the offence has so far only scored 43 points this year with only the Colts with 40 points scoring less in the entire NFL. Forty-three total points in the first three games are their fewest since 2006. So far Wilson has failed to produce with his passing yardage totals regressing from week-to-week since he became a Bronco, he’s also been sacked nine times and has thrown just two TD passes.

As a direct result of some of the failures the Broncos made a rare in-season coaching hire, bringing in veteran assistant Jerry Rosburg as a “senior assistant.”

It’s not as though Wilson and Hackett don’t have skill position players to work with on the offence with a good 1-2 punch on the ground via Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon although Gordon has developed a rather irritating fumble habit of late; he’s fumbled three times in 42 carries this year, matching his fumble total for 231 carries all last season.

Through the air for Denver it’s very much been the Courtland Sutton show being Wilson’s preferred target with 19 catches, 291 receiving yards 19 first-down conversions. Wilson’s other receivers don’t really appear to suit his style with Jerry Jeudy and TE Albert Okwuegbunam seemingly declining in targets each week.

The Raiders invested heavily in ex-Packers WR Davante Adams and reunited him with his college quarterback Derek Carr but so far the Raiders remain winless although the defeats gave come against a strong schedule and by six points or less in each contest (only outscored by a total of 13 points). Seven teams with one win have better point differentials, but Las Vegas are the only NFL team to start the year 0-3. However, an 0-3 start won’t have been what owner Mark Davis envisaged and head coach Josh McDaniels is on the hot seat at the moment.

For all his faults Raiders quarterback Derek Carr will be the best that the Denver defence has had to face and his numbers should see an uptick here especially as the offence could have a balanced look to it here. The ground game should be viable with Josh Jacobs being the main running back and I would expect to see him handle the ball some 15-plus times. The Broncos have generously surrendered 5.2 yards per carry to enemy running backs.

It comes a no surprise that the Raiders new wide receiver acquisition Davante Adams has garnered the lions share of the targets from Carr but he does face a Broncos pass defence that has contained some very decent wideouts this season. Mack Hollins made an impression in the Raiders defeat to the Titans but its tight end Darren Waller who has the best of the matchups with the Denver defence missing influential free safety Justin Simmons. Denver have conceded the NFL’s sixth-most receptions (18), 11th-most yards (164), and fifth-most touchdowns to tight ends (2) and Waller looks set for a big game.

All three Denver games have gone under the total by over 10 points this season but this shapes up as a more open and offensive game. The Raiders 0-3 record rather undermines how well they have played and against a Broncos side that appears to be finding their identity and focus this could well be their best chance to put a W against their names for the first time this season. The Broncos have covered the spread just once in their last five road games.

ANDY RICHMOND


ANDY RICHMOND is a lifelong punter and sports enthusiast who now writes extensively on horse racing and the NFL. His CV includes long spells on Timeform Radio and Racing UK having previously held several positions at the then-fledgling Betfair Exchange where he worked for six years. He has a particular love for the statistical and analytical side of sports which fits in well with the NFL. He writes all the NFL content on Paul Jones subscription service as well as having his own betting advisory service.


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BACK Darren Waller over +51.5 receiving yards 1pt at 10/11 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Las Vegas Raiders to win by 1-10 points inclusive 1pt at 2/1 (Latest Star Price ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


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