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2020 vision: Looking ahead to Denver's Week 17 matchup vs. the Las Vegas Raiders

Take a photographic trip through the years for a look back at the series history between the Broncos and the Raiders.

The Broncos' regular-season opener isn't for another couple of months, but DenverBroncos.com is taking an early look at each game on the Broncos' 2020 schedule. We don't know how injuries could impact each contest, but we'll present the pressing storylines, matchups, questions and more.

We conclude with Denver's Week 17 game against the Las Vegas Raiders.

Storylines to monitor:

For the second consecutive season, the Broncos are scheduled to end the regular season against the Raiders. Last year, the Raiders entered Week 17 with slim playoff hopes, but the Broncos dashed those chances with a 16-15 win. Could a playoff berth be on the line again in 2020? Don't rule out both teams needing a win in order to advance to the postseason. 

We'll also get another chance in this matchup to see Jerry Jeudy try to top Henry Ruggs III and earn bragging rights as the top rookie receiver. Could a big performance by Jeudy in this game seal a Rookie of the Year campaign?

Player to watch:

QB Derek Carr

Carr has found success in previous trips to Denver, including a 2018 appearance in which he completed 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards and a 114.6 quarterback rating. With his quick passing style, the Broncos have struggled in recent years to put pressure on him and bring him to the ground. Carr is efficient enough to beat anyone, and the Broncos will have their hands full in this Week 17 game. That is, ifCarr plays. If the Raiders struggle in 2020 and have been eliminated from the playoffs, is it possible that Marcus Mariota is under center for Las Vegas?

The question mark:

Do the Broncos have another game to prepare for?

We've now posted 16 previews about the Broncos' upcoming season, and this is really the only question that matters. After the 2020 regular season, will the Broncos be headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015? Denver improved in its first season under Head Coach Vic Fangio, and Drew Lock energized the team with a 4-1 stretch. There's been optimism in Denver all offseason — and for good reason. But if a new-look offense and upgraded defense don't lead to wins in 2020, the 4-1 finish in 2019 doesn't much matter. Perhaps the Broncos' playoff fate comes down to this Week 17 game, or perhaps it has been wrapped up weeks earlier. In either event, Denver's season can only be deemed a success if this isn't the last game they play.

The last meeting:

The Broncos and Raiders met to end the 2019 season, and in Lock's fifth and final start of the season, the Broncos jumped out to a 16-3 fourth-quarter lead. That wouldn't last long, though, as the Raiders added a pair of field goals and the Broncos struggled in the final frame. In Denver's final three possessions — not including a kneel down to end the game — Lock fumbled the ball, the Broncos went three-and-out and Brandon McManus missed a 57-yard field goal after an unnecessary roughness penalty on Garett Bolles. The Raiders marched down the field to score a touchdown, but with their slim playoff hopes dashed because of results elsewhere in the league, Oakland decided to go for two. As Carr looked to his left to throw to an open receiver, Shelby Harris knocked down the pass at the line to seal the win. With it, he guaranteed the Broncos' best AFC West record (3-3) since 2015.

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