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Game Preview: Denver Broncos vs. Las Vegas Raiders | Week 1

DENVER — Week 1 has arrived.

The new-look Broncos will take the field on Sunday to battle the Las Vegas Raiders, and they'll look to start fast under new Head Coach Sean Payton.

"You're anxious as a coach to see what you have," Payton said Friday. "Usually, in the first four weeks, you get an idea of where you're at. I've said this before: There's a race to improve for every team immediately. Who's getting better? I don't think it feels any different than any of the other Week 1's that I've been a part of. I think you're anxious — there are new players — you're anxious to see where your team is at. It's like a teacher that you've had a whole semester and you're getting a big exam. You think you're doing well, but you're anxious to see."

In the team's first test, Denver will aim to snap a six-game skid against its division rival and start the 2023 campaign with a victory.

Before the Broncos take the field, get ready for kickoff with our game preview:



That's the number of days between when Javonte Williams suffered a season-ending knee injury against the Raiders and when he'll return to the field against Denver's division rival on Sunday.

Williams said Friday he feels "just like if I had come in healthy," and he'll look to make an impact in his first game back from injury.

While Payton did not specify how many plays Williams would see in Week 1, he did say the Broncos' starting running back would "play a big role" against Las Vegas.

"I haven't put together a [snap] number for him," Payton said Wednesday. "We feel like him and [RB Samaje] Perine give us — I don't want to say similar backs — and then obviously, we have a little different dimension with [RB] Jaleel [McLaughlin]. We feel like he's moving well. He is strong and healthy. Preseason was important for him, but more important is the hours he put into the rehab."


CB Pat Surtain II vs. WR Davante Adams

No surprise here. The battle between the Broncos' All-Pro cornerback and one of the NFL's best receivers will be a must-watch showdown, and it will likely help decide the outcome of Sunday's game.

In Week 4 last season, Surtain found success in coverage against Adams as he limited him to five catches on nine targets for 54 yards and no touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. When the Raiders traveled to Denver for the rematch, however, Adams scored two touchdowns — including the game-winner — while working against Surtain.

"That's the toughest part of the position," Surtain said Thursday. "Sometimes stuff like that happens, but you've got to have short-term memory at that position. You learn from your mistakes and move on. That's why you see another day. You just live with it, work on what you need to work on and correct that so that the following year [or] following weeks, it won't happen again."

If Surtain can limit Adams in this Week 1 matchup, the Broncos' chances of earning a win will greatly increase.


Can Courtland Sutton start the season strong?

Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy is listed as questionable for Sunday's matchup against the Raiders, and regardless of whether he plays, Denver will likely need a strong performance from Courtland Sutton.

That seems likely following a strong training camp from the sixth-year veteran. After dropping weight and adding muscle this offseason, Sutton consistently made plays during training camp down the field and showed the explosiveness that defined his 2019 Pro Bowl campaign.

"I think he's strong," Payton said in August. "I think he's healthy. In fairness to him, I think he's healthy. He's moving well. His body weight was just what we wanted when he reported to camp. I like how he's been working."

Sutton posted a 100-yard game in last year's home opener. Could he do it again in 2023?

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