OAKLAND (AP) — For the Raiders, playing out the string of another losing season has become an all-too-regular occurrence in recent years. They are on their way to their 12th season with double-digit losses in the past 16 years.
For the Denver Broncos, it’s rather new territory.
The Broncos (6-8) head into Monday night’s game at Oakland (3-11) needing to win their final two games to avoid their first back-to-back losing campaigns since 1971-72.
“We want to win. These next two games are important for us to finish the right way,” coach Vance Joseph said. “That part is very important to me. It’s about winning. That’s what it’s about. It’s not about losing, it’s about winning. That’s very important to our football team and our coaches.”
The Broncos have by far the longest streak in the NFL without consecutive losing seasons with New England holding the next longest, having last done it in 1992-93.
Denver began the month with playoff aspirations after beating Cincinnati to get to 6-6. But back-to-back losses to San Francisco and Cleveland ended those hopes and had the Broncos looking for other goals.
“Me personally, I just want to finish strong,” cornerback Bradley Roby said. “Hopefully get some more turnovers. I only have three so far this year and I just want to make some more. I love to play and I love to make turnovers. That’s my focus, just to have fun.”
The Raiders are just hoping to get out of this season without more injuries. A series of injuries to the offensive line has played a big part in Derek Carr getting sacked 47 times — third most in the league. Carr is the first player in four years to get sacked at least three times in seven consecutive games, but remains on pace for his first career 4,000-yard season.
“I think he’s hanging in there,” coach Jon Gruden said. “No question, I am sure he is sore. He knows he is carrying us right now on offense. That’s what a franchise quarterback is paid to do.”
Here are some other things to watch:
GOODBYE OAKLAND: The game could be the final one ever at the Coliseum. The Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas in 2020 but have no lease for next year. Oakland city officials are suing the Raiders over the move and the team has threatened to play somewhere else because of it. Gruden said thinking about the end of the Coliseum almost makes him cry, but he can’t wait to see what the atmosphere will be like Monday night.
“I get excited thinking about it,” he said. “Just raging in the Black Hole. Rocking and raging down there after the Steelers game, after a lot of wins over the years. Seeing a lot of the old highlights of the great Raiders teams. I get excited and I get emotional about it. Hopefully, we get it all resolved where we can continue to play here.”
ROOKIE SENSATION: Broncos running back Phillip Lindsay has been bottled up the last two weeks but he’s 9 rushing yards shy of 1,000 and just became the first offensive undrafted player selected to the Pro Bowl. Lindsay said he never pondered the possibility, suggesting that was a long-term goal of his a few years into his career. Lindsay started out as a special-teamer and didn’t even become Denver’s featured back until midseason, starting the last seven games.
“I’m an undrafted free agent. To be able to have 100 yards in a game was great. To get a touchdown, to be able to play at (Mile High Stadium), that’s the stuff right there that I dreamt about,” Lindsay said.
ROUGH ROOKIE: Raiders first-round left tackle Kolton Miller has had a rough rookie year. The 15th overall pick in the draft was hampered by a knee injury he played through earlier in the season and has appeared overmatched against a gantlet of top pass rushers he’s faced in his first NFL season. According to Pro Football Focus, Miller has allowed more sacks (14) and total pressures (59) than any player in the league.
It doesn’t figure to get easier this week against Denver’s dynamic duo of Von Miller and Bradley Chubb.
“He’s had some really good games. He’s had some games where he’s had his eyes opened,” Gruden said. “He’s not the first rookie left tackle that has gone through this. We’d like to see him finish with some authority.”
CORNERED AT CORNERBACK: The Broncos signed free agent Craig Mager after putting star cornerback Chris Harris Jr. on IR with a broken right leg. Denver also expects to get Brendan Langley and Isaac Yiadom back from concussions and will have Bradley Roby back after he required five stitches last week for a laceration on his chin that he could stick his tongue through.
And Jamar Taylor is back. His ejection last weekend left the Broncos with only one healthy cornerback in Tremaine Brock, and Cleveland scored its winning TD with safeties Justin Simmons and Dymonte Harris forced into route coverage in the fourth quarter.