ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — It’s Raiders Week.
In Denver, that means not much more needs to be said.
The stakes are clear this weekend, as the Broncos head to Las Vegas to take on the Raiders (0-3) and former Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels. And when the game kicks off, the Broncos will have plenty at stake.
Denver will look to send Las Vegas to another loss and earn a 3-1 record to match their best start to a season since 2016. But the Broncos will also battle with history, as they seek their first road win against the Raiders since 2015 and aim to break a four-game skid vs. Las Vegas.
“That’s the past,” Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett said Wednesday. “This is the now. I just know what we’re about to go out there and try to do. I know it’s going to be a great game. I know that there is a rivalry between these two teams, and [I’m] happy to be part of it, and I think it’s going to be a fun game.”
With a new coach and new quarterback, the Broncos will look to find a win in a rivalry game that matters a bit more than a normal contest.
“I hate them, to be honest with you,” Bradley Chubb said. “I hate them. There’s only a few teams in the league I hate, and they’re one of them. Every time we go there, it hasn’t went in our favor. Since 2015, it hasn’t went in our favor. It’s always a tough game, I always know it’s going to be a good matchup. … They talk and stuff. We talk and stuff. It’s going back and forth. It’s not going to be a cakewalk no matter what their record is. We know they’re looking at it the same way we are.”
Added Pat Surtain II: “I just feel the anticipation around the building. The energy’s different toward a rivalry game. It’s highly anticipated going on throughout the week.”
The rivalry element will also keep the Broncos focused on a game against a winless opponent.
“No matter what their record is, they come at us like they’re a 10-0 team instead of an 0-3 team,” Dre’Mont Jones said. “I expect the Raiders to play good football against us.”
Las Vegas has lost all three of its game by just one possession, including an overtime loss to the Cardinals.
“Coach earlier said they’re like a wounded dog,” Chubb said. “When you back a wounded dog up, they come out fighting. We’re not taking them for granted at all. We know that 0-3, that’s just what paper says. We see what they did on film. They’re No. 2 in explosive plays when it comes to the pass. They’re putting up 21 points per game. So it’s going to be a challenge for us still. We’ve got to go out there and execute.”
If the Broncos hope to unseat the Chiefs as AFC West champions, it’s critical that they improve their division record. Denver hasn’t finished with a winning record in the division since 2015, and a road win over Las Vegas would be a key step in the correct direction.
“It’s huge, because that’s our main focus as a team — the team, the ball and the [AFC] West,” Chubb said of getting a divisional win. “Every day we’ve got to practice and prepare like that. The biggest thing to get to the playoffs is winning your division. … We’ve just got to make sure we start off on the right note and carry that momentum over.”
Against the Raiders, it won’t take much to find motivation.