The Denver Broncos earned a confidence-boosting win last week — a hard-fought nail-biter vs. the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. It was Denver's second prime-time game in three weeks, and while many procedural aspects of the team were improved over Week 1's nationally-televised bout, several warts were still on display.
Namely, Russell Wilson and the Broncos offense remained stuck in failure-to-launch mode. Fortunately, when the chips were down, Wilson shouldered the load, willing the Broncos to a game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
With the Las Vegas Raiders next up on the schedule, you might be asking why I'm recounting what is now ancient history. It's because everyone knows that with how fierce and stingy Denver's defense is, if/when the offense finally clicks, this team will become a force to be reckoned with in the NFL.
Will the stars finally align for Wilson and offensive-minded head coach Nathaniel Hackett on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium? That's what we'll all be tuning in to find out.
One thing's for sure: the Broncos are unlikely to find a more malleable defense to exploit than that of the Raiders. This vulnerable opponent presents an golden opportunity if Wilson and company have the wherewithal to capitalize.
While it's carpe diem for the offense, there are several Broncos with some milestones in reach, and it gives fans an additional layer of things to watch for in Week 4.
Let's dive in.
Russell Wilson in Search of a TD
Wilson needs one passing touchdown to leapfrog QB Carson Palmer (294) for 14th-most in NFL history. I like Wilson's odds.
Six more passing scores and Wilson hits 300 for his career, becoming the fifth active QB to reach that milestone.
Courtland Sutton on Brink of 200
Sutton needs six receptions to reach 200 for his career, and 51 receiving yards to eclipse 3,000. He's off to a phenomenal start this season, though he's yet to find the end zone.
Sutton entered Week 4 ranked fifth in the NFL in receiving yards with 291 through three games.
Javonte Williams in Search of Big Play
Williams needs one 'Big Play' — which is a rush of 10 or more yards — to claim sole possession of fourth place for the most rushes of 10-plus yards since entering the NFL in 2021. The second-year back currently leads the Broncos with 176 rushing yards through three games.
Patrick Surtain II Looking for Pass Break-Ups
Surtain needs two passes defensed to tie CB Kelly Herndon for the fifth-most passes defensed (18) by a Bronco in his first two seasons. Surtain was an absolute animal last week, not relinquishing a single reception to his assignments and breaking up two passes.
The second-year man has become a shutdown corner, allowing a paltry 45 yards on 14 targets this season.
Ronald Darby in Search of a Pass B/U
Darby needs one pass defensed to tie CB Casey Hayward for the third-most passes defensed by an active defensive back since 2014. When healthy, Darby has proven to be a difference-maker in the NFL.
The Broncos need him to continue holding up as opposing quarterbacks increasingly show their reluctance to target Surtain on the other side.
Melvin Gordon Wants a TD
Gordon needs one touchdown to claim the second-most offensive touchdowns scored by an active running back since 2015. Gordon is second on the team with 131 rushing yards this season.
But as is his way, he's also been very loosey-goosey with his ball security, losing a fumble on the goal-line in the season-opener and fumbling twice last week against the Niners. Fortunately, the Broncos recovered both of Gordon's Week 3 fumbles.
Brandon McManus Wants a 50-Yarder
McManus needs one more field goal of 50-plus yards to tie K Robbie Gould for the 14th-most 50-plus yard field goals in NFL history. Two additional field goals and an extra point (seven points) would give McManus 900 total points in his career including playoffs (860 regular season, 33 postseason).
Broncos in Search of a Road Win
The Broncos need a win to reach 200 road victories in franchise history. A win on Sunday would also improve Denver to 54-68-2 (.444) overall and 26-37-0 (.413) on the road in the all-time series versus Las Vegas.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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