WagerWire Report: Smash or Fade? NFL Edition Week 4

For a decently large percentage of organizations, week 4 in the NFL is show up or shut up. The difference between finishing week 4 with an overall record of 0-4 or 1-3 can be significant, specifically when factoring in the strength of said team's divisional opponents. A record of 1-3 should be a season killer in the AFC West, as the division is fully loaded top to bottom with talent, but by no means has it been an impressive start for any of the four teams. A few months ago, you would've been called insane for saying every team in the AFC West will have a loss by week 4, but here we are. Unfortunately, 1-3 is best case scenario this week for the Las Vegas Raiders due to a less than favorable start to their 2022 season. For Raiders nation, the expectations were high leading up to opening day, but to this point, they haven't delivered. This team needs to find a groove and find it quick if they want to become relevant by regular seasons end. A tough loss to the Chargers in week 1, a brutal collapse in an overtime defeat to the Cardinals in week 2, and a 2-point week 3 loss to the Titans, leave them sitting at 0-3 and at the depths of the division. Meanwhile, their opponent this week, division rival Denver Broncos, are sitting at 2-1. Their records don't tell the whole story. While the ball bounced the wrong way for the Raiders a few times, the ball bounced the right way for Denver. The Broncos should be feeling BLESSED to own a 2-1 record right now, but in Las Vegas, an 0-3 record could give them just the right amount of juice to get it done at home. Let's take a deeper look.

The Raiders, with an all time record against Denver of 69-54-2, have won 4 straight against the Broncos. Perhaps Vegas took that trend into consideration when crowning the Raiders a 2.5 point favorite this week; but then again, it may be in part to a 1-9 record for the Broncos against the AFC West in their last 10 games played. A counterargument against using those trends to properly asses this matchup would be that this is a new year, with new faces for both organizations everywhere you look, so recent history may not apply as much here. My argument will align with the latter. To be blunt, this Raiders defense is atrocious. The Las Vegas secondary is Swiss cheese and Russell Wilson is poised for a breakout game for Denver very soon. After facing a very respectable group of 49ers defenders last week and owning terrible week one and two performances, Russ should cook in week 4, leaving all of Bronco's country relieved that their $245 million dollar man is exactly who we thought he was (*Dennis Green voice*). If Russell Wilson can form some half-decent chemistry with his receivers this week, it could be a long day for the Raiders secondary, but the drops need to limited by the receiving group.

Davante Adams joining forces with Derek Carr appeared to be a godsending reunion of the ages in week 1, but just 2 weeks later it feels underwhelming. The touchdowns have been there, but the catches and yardage have dipped dramatically. Against a stout Denver Broncos defense this week, the connection between Carr and Adams will have to be stronger than ever, although I have my reservations about that coming to fruition. The Raiders offensive line is among the worst in football. They can't protect Carr and they can't create running lanes for the running backs. To say that the Broncos front 7 will take advantage of that, may be an understatement. This game could get ugly fast, and if the Broncos do get up in the game early, I have little to no faith that the Raiders can muster up a comeback.

This could very easily go the other way though, as my prediction was made based on the belief that Wilson will return to form this week, but there's no real clear evidence to back that up. Denver Broncos coach, Nathaniel Hackett, has had his fair share of coaching woe's through 3 weeks, and a lot needs to come together for the Broncos offensively to gain some momentum. Of course, it's possible that Russell Wilson and this coaching staff just don't mesh, but I have confidence in the fact that this process takes time. If there was a week for Wilson and Hackett to manifest some fluidity and pick up some steam, week 4 against the Raiders feels like the perfect time.

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Original Photo Credit: Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images via https://dknation.draftkings.com/2022/9/25/23361693/russell-wilson-start-sit-advice-fantasy-football-week-3-broncos-vs-49ers-backup-qb-brett-rypien

Original photo credit: (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) via https://kslsports.com/452440/report-raiders-qb-derek-carr-expected-to-be-pursued-by-multiple-teams-this-offseason/

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