The Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders play on Sunday January 1st 2017 in a game that means nothing for the Broncos, but plays a significant role in the AFC Playoff seeding for the Derek Carless Raiders. If the Raiders win they will keep their #2 seed. If they win and the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots they can steal the #1 seed. If they lose they will swap spots with the Kansas City Chiefs at the 5 seed assuming the Chiefs beat the Chargers.
Derek Carr is on injured reserve after fracturing his fibula against the Indianapolis Colts. Peyton Manning has been linked to a coaching job in Indy, just as an FYI. Jack Del Rio will have to go with quarterback Matt McGloin who hasn’t started since 2013. This game may say a lot about who the Raiders are without their leader Carr. Can the dominant O-line led by Donald Penn open up the running game for Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, and DeAndre Washington? Will Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree continue to be receiving threats, and is the defense without a high-powered offense a legitimate Achilles heal.
I’d keep an eye on linebacker Khalil Mack playing against right tackle Donald Stephenson. That may be an area the Raiders can dominate on defense. Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will share reps in the game, with Siemian getting the start. DeMarcus Ware had back surgery and is on IR along with Kayvon Webster. Derek Wolfe, T.J. Ward and A.J. Derby have all been ruled out with injuries. If I’m Wade Phillips I’d rest as many stars as possible. His contract is set to expire, and Gary Kubiak has some big personnel decisions to make this offseason. John Elway will demand change, and nobody is sure what will happen after this game ends in the Mile High City.
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