Week 4: Loss at Denver Broncos, 16-10
This is the only non-primetime game to make the cut, but that does not mean the Week 4 loss to the Denver Broncos wasn’t a season-defining game for the Raiders. Both teams were 2-1 at the time of this meeting. It felt like the winner of this game would emerge as the biggest challenger to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West this year. Kansas City was on fire to start the year, while the Los Angeles Chargers were in the toilet in September.
On paper, this six-point defeat doesn’t look like a terrible loss for the Raiders. It came on the road to a hated division rival. However, it proved to be more telling of defeat than we could have possibly known at the time. This was the game where Derek Carr suffered a transverse process fracture in his back. He had to exit the game in the third quarter in favor of his backup EJ Manuel.
Manuel was not horrible in relief of Carr, but he was never an overly accurate passing in the five-plus quarters he played for the Raiders this season. He had a chance to win the ball game late, but had his ball picked off by safety Justin Simmons in the red zone. That set up victory formation for the Broncos.
That would be the last win for the Broncos until December. They cratered catastrophically. While the Raiders would finish one game better than Denver in the AFC West, this early season road loss stands as an ever-present reminder that this was not going to be the Raiders’ year no matter how badly Raider Nation wanted it to be.