By Dave Thomas
With Kansas City (11-4) hot on their tail, the Oakland Raiders will look to take care of business and secure the AFC West crown with a win over the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. If the Chiefs win in San Diego Sunday, then Oakland (12-3) must win against Denver (8-7), or they will end up being a wild card team. In the event Oakland is a wild card participant, it guarantees a road game and no weekend off.
Making matters more daunting for the Raiders is the fact that they go into their meeting with the Broncos shorthanded.
As Oakland fans know all too well, starting QB Derek Carr is on the shelf while recovering from a broken right fibula. Following surgery this week, Carr is expected to miss six to eight weeks, meaning backup quarterback Matt McGloin must now carry the Silver and Black the remainder of the way.
Oakland Dinged Up On Offense And Defense
While the Raiders know that McGloin will be under center for the foreseeable future (barring injury), they have some question marks to deal with on both sides of the ball.
On the offensive side of things, wide receivers Amari Cooper (shoulder) and Michael Crabtree (ankle) continue to battle nagging injuries, respectively. When you have a quarterback in McGloin not having seen lots of playing time lately, being able to work with Cooper and Crabtree at optimum health would certainly help.
As for the Raiders’ running game, back Jalen Richard saw limited practice this week, as he deals with a shoulder injury. Additionally, offensive tackle Austin Howard (shoulder) is listed as out for Sunday’s game.
Over on the defensive side, safety Karl Joseph (toe) did get some reps in practice this week, but Oakland listed him as doubtful to play as of Friday’s injury report.
Broncos Look To End On High Note
As for Denver, a season that looked promising after the first month or so has gone south in a hurry. With their 33-10 loss at rival Kansas City on Christmas, the Broncos were officially eliminated from the AFC playoff hunt.
Just a year removed from winning their third Super Bowl title in franchise history, the Broncos were never able to settle on a proven quarterback this season in the wake of Peyton Manning’s retirement. With rookie Paxton Lynch likely in the mix too for the 2017 season, Elway and the rest of Denver’s management and coaching staff will have a lot to think about in the off-season.
Heading into Sunday’s season finale, Denver will be without safety T.J. Ward (concussion) and defensive end Derek Wolfe (neck). Ward (87 total tackles) and Wolfe (5.5 sacks) are both integral parts of Denver’s defense, something McGloin and Co. will look to exploit.
- (WR) Michael Crabtree (Ankle) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (WR) Amari Cooper (Shoulder) — Limited Participation in Practice
- (WR) Andre Holmes (Shoulder) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (DT) Stacy McGee (Groin) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (G/T) Kelechi Osemele (Ankle) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (RB) Jalen Richard (Shoulder) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (LB) Perry Riley Jr. (Hamstring) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (LB) Malcolm Smith (Hamstring) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (S) Karl Joseph (Toe) – Limited Participation in Practice
- (QB) Derek Carr (Right fibula) — Did Not Participate In Practice
- (T) Austin Howard (Shoulder) – Did Not Participate in Practice