DENVER — Their veteran quarterback is unexpectedly struggling under a new coach who came in with much fanfare but has already urged the owner to weigh in with a vote of confidence. They’ve shown a knack for losing tight games and star players alike.
That describes both the Las Vegas Raiders (2-7) and the Denver Broncos (3-6) going head-to-head in Denver on Sunday to stay out of the AFC West basement.
The Derek Carr-Josh McDaniels pairing in Las Vegas has been a bust so far, as has the Russell Wilson-Nathaniel Hackett pairing in Denver.
The Broncos have lost five one-score games and their other loss was a 32-23 loss in Las Vegas last month, in which they trailed by two points until Josh Jacobs ran the TD with 2:02 minutes remaining.
This is the only close game the Raiders have prevailed in so far. They lost six games by one goal followed by an ugly 24-0 shutout by the Saints.
Carr is without Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow as he tries to stop the Raiders from slipping away, and Wilson doesn’t have Garett Bolles, Javonte Williams, KJ Hamler or Jerry Jeudy as he tries to snap the Broncos out of their funk.
Raiders owner Mark Davis said earlier in the week that he’s in it for the long haul with McDaniels, who has won seven of his last 31 games as head coach, including a 5-17 mark that ended his stint at Denver in 2010.
“I think we can all be better at certain instances, but some of the greatest coaches this league has seen have had some rough times,” said Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams. “I’m sure they didn’t all run off the blocks like Usain Bolt.”
The vote of confidence, similar to the one Hackett received from new Broncos owner/CEO Greg Penner in London two weeks ago, helped the Raiders relax, Carr said.
“It just lets us know, trust this process,” Carr said. “Well there’s a process and we have time right now during the season to know who our leader is and we know we’re rolling and that gives us confidence as a football team.”
Noting the similarities between the teams, Hackett said, “SOMEBODY HAS TO WIN THIS GAME.”
The last time these old AFL rivals met when their combined records were worse than that year’s 5-13 mark was on November 29, 1964, when the Raiders were 3-7-1 and the Broncos 2-9 .
They battled it out at old Bears Stadium in Denver that day to a 20-20 tie, one of just two deadlocks in 126 games between the teams.
SURTAN VS. adams
The game between two of the league’s worst teams features one of the best matchups in the NFL between Adams and Broncos cornerback Pat Surtain II.
“Everyone will be excited to see these two guys do it,” Hackett said. “I don’t think they’re scared of testing him and I don’t think Pat is scared of being tested.”
Adams has eight touchdown catches — one more than Wilson has thrown all season — and Surtain is hardly ever challenged, effectively taking away half the field from opponents much like Hall of Famer Deion Sanders did.
Adams averages 13.8 yards per catch and 87 yards per game, and Surtain has only given up four catches for 18 yards in his last four games.
“It’s going to be a duel,” Surtain said. “It’s going to be a showdown”
AIR IT OUT
Emotional after Sunday’s 25-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, Carr said not everyone on the team was as dedicated as he was, sparking frank conversation in the Raiders’ locker room.
“I’m proud of how we handled it and what you saw of me was just frustration with some of the things that needed to be addressed,” Carr said.
NO PLACE FOR HATE
Hackett doesn’t go for the whole “hate your rival” thing. For the second time this season, he dismissed the notion that he harbored animosity towards his team’s main rival.
Last month, Hackett said it took too much energy to hate the Raiders. On Wednesday, he said he still doesn’t hate her, noting that his father once worked for the Raiders.
A day later, after some backlash from fans wondering if he appreciated the heated nature of the rivalry, Hackett said it was one of the best clashes in the NFL in a long time and “I know how much it means to the fans and the players.” means.”
“It’s great for our game to have these kinds of rivalries,” Hackett said. “So it’s great to see that. Whatever your record, it’s going to be a great game.”
AP Sports Writer Mark Anderson contributed to this report.
Follow Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter at https://twitter.com/arniestapleton
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP–NFL