GAME OVERVIEW ::
By Mike Johnson >>
- The Raiders have been adding healthy bodies to their offensive roster over the last month while Denver has steadily lost weapons before a single game has been played.
- Jimmy Garoppolo has shown throughout his career that he can get the ball to his playmakers and lead a competitive team.
- Conservative play calling and matchups leave this game with a slim path to a high scoring affair.
- Las Vegas should have a concentrated offensive attack while Denver is likely to spread the ball around.
- Denver has a significant home field advantage early in the season due to altitude and heat.
HOW LAS VEGAS WILL TRY TO WIN ::
The Raiders offense in 2022 flowed primarily through Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams, and we should expect a similar approach this year now that Jacobs has signed his 1-year deal to return to the team. Derek Carr is out and Jimmy Garoppolo is in at quarterback for the Raiders, but those two players have similar playing styles and Garoppolo should be well versed in the offense considering his past connection with Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels when both were in New England. Garoppolo is a prototypical “game manager” at quarterback, unlikely to make plays with his legs and hesitant to push the ball down the field, but he has been very successful at getting the ball to the right players and letting them go to work during his career, as that was basically the approach he had in San Francisco. Las Vegas ranked in the bottom half of the NFL in both pace of play and pass rate over expectation in 2022, trends that I would need to see changed, to believe in them in 2023.
From a personnel standpoint, the Raiders should have a pretty clear usage tree. Jacobs should be heavily featured in both the running game and with some targets out of the backfield. The one caveat I will add is that I wouldn’t be shocked if second year RB Zamir White mixes in a little more than usual in this game as Jacobs missed most of training camp due to a holdout, and they may look to ease him in a bit. For the passing game, Davante Adams led the league with a 32.6% target share in 2022, and it doesn’t seem like he has the necessary competition to push that number under 30 this year. After trading away Darren Waller, the Raiders selected tight end Michael Mayer in the second round of the draft and added wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and tight end Austin Hooper in free agency. Jacobs, Adams, and Meyers seem destined to be on the field for close to every snap. To fill out the skill players, it seems like a rotation of Mayer, Hooper, and Hunter Renfrow will mix and match based on formation, personnel packages, and game situations. Mayer should eventually take over the tight end position, but he and Hooper were rotating a lot in the preseason and there tends to be a steep learning curve for rookie tight ends. In any scenario, the Jacobs-Adams-Meyers trio is likely to account for upwards of 75% of the team’s targets + touches.
The Broncos defense had a clear “path of least resistance” in 2022, as their pass defense was top 5 in the league while their run defense ranked in the bottom half. They have a young stud cornerback in Patrick Surtain, but that didn’t stop Davante Adams from dropping lines of 9-101-0 and 7-141-2 in his two matchups. The Raiders are on the road here and breaking in a new quarterback. The game plan will be very straightforward with a balanced approach and condensed usage. We may see a few new wrinkles from Josh McDaniels, but the Raiders should clearly be relying on their studs here and profile as a team that looks to methodically move the ball downfield by moving the chains rather than taking the top off of defenses, especially in this Week 1 road matchup.