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The Broncos have an absurd amount of advantages over the Raiders this week

Zac Stevens Avatar
September 13, 2018

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After one week of ball, the Denver Broncos have their archenemy just where they want them.

The Broncos already have a one-game advantage on the Oakland Raiders as they sit at a glistening 1-0, while the Raiders aren’t as fortunate with an 0-1 record.

“The scoreboard tells me I’m not doing very good,” Raiders’ head coach Jon Gruden woefully said.

But the small sample size is the least of the Raiders’ worries as they make the climb 5,280 feet from the Bay Area to the Rocky Mountains on Sunday for one of the best rivalries in all of sports.

By the time the Broncos had put Week 1 in the review mirror and had already dove into Week 2, the Raiders hadn’t even kicked off their first game of the season.

The Broncos had roughly a 30-hour head start on their division rival.

Denver’s Week 1 game ended roughly at 5:30 pm MST on Sunday. Oakland’s Week 1 game didn’t end until 11:30 pm MST Monday night.

“It’s a challenge overcoming all of these issues. It really is,” Gruden said, talking about the short week. “But you know what, this is what we need. This is what the Raiders need. We need to prove our mental toughness. It’s not how you want to feel, you would like to be fresh as a daisy playing at home coming off a win like Denver is, but we gotta go do what we gotta do.”

Not only do the Raiders miss out on an entire day of preparation, they have to travel to a place that hasn’t been kind to them in recent years. Oakland is 1-5 in their past six road trips to the Mile High City. Oh, and Denver is 50-8-2 in their last 60 games at home in the first two weeks of the season.

Oakland will have to make one of the shortest turnarounds of the entire football season with a roster that’s not exactly built for that task.

Thanks in large part to their 15 players over 30 years old on the roster, Oakland has the oldest team in the league. Typically, as bodies get older, they need more time to recover. The short turnaround won’t provide that.

Additionally, Gruden and his staff are nearly revamping their roster from Week 1 to Week 2, signing three potential starters on Wednesday and all could have a large role in Sunday’s game.

If all goes swimmingly for the Raiders, receiver Martavis Bryant, defensive lineman Clinton McDonald and defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins will only have a total of two to three practices before facing the Broncos.

That’s not to mention all of the new players Oakland brought in during the offseason who are still trying to build chemistry with their new teammates.

“We, unfortunately, had to find some people to come in and play immediately this year,” Gruden said, not afraid to point out potential weaknesses in his team. “We had to replace some key players at a lot of key positions on defense.”

One of those key players, All-Pro Khalil Mack, is quite difficult to replace.

In Mack’s first game with the Chicago Bears — after being traded by Gruden’s regime for what many believed was an embarrassing return — the potential Hall of Famer had a game for the ages, posting one sack, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, a pass breakup, an interception and a touchdown.

But it’s not just his play on the field where Mack is missed.

“Just more as a friend,” Derek Carr said when asked if Mack will be missed. “It was hard because your buddy is not going to be there every day. Now, we still text, we still talk all the time, but just not seeing him every day, it’s weird. I think that was the hardest part.”

All of the turmoil among the Raiders’ roster comes at the same time the Broncos are barely dealing with a single injury.

Outside of Derek Wolfe, who is dealing with a minor abdominal strain, Joseph has maintained all week the team is “lucky.”

If all of this wasn’t enough, the 100-million-dollar coach wouldn’t completely disregard the idea that the Raiders are rebuilding.

“The reality is we’re building our team. We have to do that,” Gruden said when asked if their organization is playing for 2020 instead of trying to win now. “We’ve had 10 head coaches since I was traded here. That’s unbelievable. We’ve had no continuity. None. And we’re building our team and trying to win at the same time, but we’re going to try to build the Oakland Raiders into a great championship football team. It might not happen this week, it might not happen this month, but we have a great attitude, some really good veteran leadership, we like our draft picks, and we’re making progress.”

History is not on Gruden’s side for his championship team to come together this week as he’s a dreadful 1-9 against the Broncos in his coaching career.

If it wasn’t stinky enough for the Raiders’ prognosis this week, well, the Silver & Black have had to prep for the game in an unpleasant environment.

“A skunk got loose in our locker room, that’s no kidding,” Gruden said out of left field. “It’s been a real tough short week — short week, no sleep and a wild skunk running around in our building… It’s a smell I still can’t get out of my face.”

The foul smell seeping through Oakland’s headquarters might end up being the most pleasant problem they deal with all week in their lead up to their division rivalry game on Sunday.

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