OAKLAND — 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:
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.”
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.