ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — One last time this season, the Broncos will take the field looking for a win.
And after a 37-12 loss to the Raiders in mid-November, the Broncos will be looking for redemption against their division rival.
There is no playoff bid at stake for either of these two AFC West teams, but the Broncos must earn a win to avoid being swept by the Raiders. In each of the last five seasons, the Broncos have split the season series with their division foe — and they’ll look to keep that going in the early days of 2021.
A win would also send the Raiders to their sixth loss in their last seven games. With a win over Denver in October, the Raiders improved to 6-4 for the second consecutive season. And just like a year ago, the Raiders may end the season 7-9 after that quick start.
These are the questions that will decide if Denver can earn its second consecutive season-ending win over Las Vegas and kick off the new year with a win:
CAN THE BRONCOS PLAY A CLEANER GAME?
Earlier this season, the Broncos were driving to end the first half of the first meeting between these two teams. With the ball at the Las Vegas 5-yard line, Drew Lock ran into the end zone for a go-ahead score, but the touchdown was negated by a penalty. One play later, Lock threw an interception into the end zone.
It was one of four interceptions for Lock on the day, which set a career worst for the young quarterback. DaeSean Hamilton also lost a fumble, which capped a season-worst five-turnover day for Denver. Through 15 games, the Raiders rank 29th in the league in takeaways as they’ve recorded 15 turnovers. Five of those came in that Week 10 game against the Broncos.
To make the situation worse, the Broncos did not record a takeaway in the game, either. They currently hold a minus-20 turnover ratio, which is the worst in the lead by a wide margin. The next closest team sits at minus-10.
“Well, it’s twofold,” Head Coach Vic Fangio said Wednesday. “One, we have turned it over too much. Then, two, we haven’t gotten it enough. Sometimes when you get out of whack that way, it’s one side or the other being the major culprit, but it’s been a team problem this year on both sides of the ball and obviously we have to rectify it. One is we have to protect it better on offense, that’s for sure, and then we have to find a way to get the ball out, get some interceptions, be a little more disruptive on defense to allow us to get them.”
Lock has turned the ball over in every game but one this year, and he’ll need to play a clean game for the Broncos to remain in the game against Las Vegas.