And what would it mean for Vic Fangio’s future in Denver?
We have reached that time of year where an old cliché simply cannot be ignored. After the Denver Broncos suffered back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, Week 6 has taken on even more importance.
That’s right, Broncos Country. The game against the Las Vegas Raiders is officially a must-win game.
I don’t like it anymore than you do. Still, we have to acknowledge that Raider Week is now, officially, a must-win game.
As Ian St. Clair and I discussed on the MHR Radio Podcast, if the Broncos fall from 3-0 to 3-3 their chances at the playoffs continue to plummet. They lost to two teams that could be in the playoff hunt (Baltimore for sure will be there, and who knows what Pittsburgh is). A loss to the Raiders hurts them in multiple ways. It would be a loss to a division rival, and a team battling for a similar spot in the playoffs.
That being said, a win against Las Vegas would stop the free fall, and would keep the Broncos in the playoff hunt. Clearly, the opportunity for a big win is there. The Raiders are a franchise in turmoil.
With the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden amidst the email scandal, Las Vegas is a team without a leader. While it is possible that something like this could galvanize the players, I believe it will be difficult for the Raiders to circle the proverbial wagons in time.
This game is also important to the standing of Vic Fangio and his coaching staff. Two weeks in a row, they were outcoached. Fangio and defensive coordinator Ed Donatell had issues containing a bad Pittsburgh team (with some help by an awful performance by Kyle Fuller). Pat Shurmur abandoned what the Broncos offense does well two weeks in a row.
If those things continue, a loss to the Raiders cannot be overlooked in whether or not Fangio and his staff will continue to be employed in Denver. I have been willing to accept the growing pains for the Broncos head coach, but my patience is wearing thin.
Even with all the struggles, the Broncos are not a complete wreck. Aside from a couple bad plays on defense against the Steelers, and a bad quarter against the Ravens, Denver has played well this season. Some coaching decisions have left a lot to be desired, but Raider Week is a chance to correct those mistakes.
There are playoff implications, and potential coaching staff implications, in this upcoming game. So, yeah, this Week 6 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders is must-win.