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Position breakdown for Sunday’s Raiders-Broncos game

Updated December 28, 2019 - 2:34 pm

The Raiders (7-8) look to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they wrap up the regular season against the Broncos (6-9) at 1:25 p.m. Sunday at Empower Field in Denver. Here is a breakdown by position:

Quarterbacks

Drew Lock has flashed enough ability to give the Broncos some hope for the future. He’s also been rather inconsistent in his limited action. Derek Carr’s future remains a controversial topic as he has been good enough to rank just inside the top half of the league in most categories and keep the Raiders in the race, but not good enough to silence his critics. It’s looking like he’ll have another opportunity to finally win a cold-weather game based on the forecast.

Advantage: Raiders

Running backs

Josh Jacobs would be the most dynamic playmaker out of the backfield on either team, but he was declared out Saturday. The Raiders have capable backups in DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. Denver will split carries between Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, who each provide a different look.

Advantage: Broncos

Receivers

It was very clear last week how much the Raiders, and Carr in particular, had missed Hunter Renfrow. He tends to be the primary read on most third-down plays and has proven to be very reliable. Renfrow’s presence should take some defensive attention away from breakout star tight end Darren Waller. Denver’s Courtland Sutton will be the best playmaking receiver on the field, and Deasean Hamilton is starting to emerge as a weapon as well.

Advantage: Broncos

Offensive line

Both units are in the top 10 in terms of run blocking, according to Football Outsiders. Only the Raiders have the same status as far as pass protection. Oakland has been decimated by injuries up front, but continues to find a way to fill the holes.

Advantage: Raiders

Defensive line

While the Raiders defensive front has fallen off against the pass, it continues to shine against the run. Denver is more balanced as the Broncos are in the top half of the league in both aspects. Shelby Harris and Mike Purcell have been particularly effective up front.

Advantage: Broncos

Linebackers

Von Miller hasn’t played at the elite level he had established over his first eight seasons and may be having his worst year to date, but he’s still very good. Alexander Johnson has been nothing short of a revelation for Denver. Will Compton has helped solidify things for a struggling Raiders linebacking corps.

Advantage: Broncos

Secondary

Justin Simmons is fantastic at strong safety for Denver, but the overmatched Trey Marshall was pressed into his most extensive action of the season on the other side for the Broncos. Cornerback Chris Harris has seen his play fall off significantly. The Raiders still are trying to find the right mix in the defensive backfield. Daryl Worley moving to safety did seem to work a bit with Trayvon Mullen improving at one corner and Nevin Lawson getting more comfortable in the system.

Advantage: Broncos

Special teams

There are not a whole lot of teams behind the No. 24 Raiders in Football Outsiders’ special teams rankings. The Broncos are one of them. While kicker Daniel Carlson continues to struggle with consistency, punter A.J. Cole had a tremendous game last week as he averaged 51.8 yards on five punts and hit three of his seven attempts inside the 20. Cole is now 29th in the league in net average, one spot ahead of Denver’s Colby Wadman.

Advantage: Broncos

Intangibles

Somehow, some way, the Raiders are still in the mix for a playoff spot heading into the final game of the season. The Broncos most certainly are not.

Advantage: Raiders

More Raiders: Follow at vegasnation.com and @VegasNation on Twitter.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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