The Denver Broncos will wrap up their 2023 season on Sunday in Las Vegas.
Though the team will not be in the playoffs this season, it is not a meaningless game. Finishing 9-8 would give the Broncos their first winning season since 2016. It would also snap a seven-game losing streak against the Raiders.
However, the team needs to be just as focused on the future and how to finally get back into the postseason next year. In order to do that, some of the younger players on the roster need to show what they can do with meaningful snaps against tough competition.
Sean Payton has already made the decision to start Jarrett Stidham at quarterback and that could be for more than just the rest of this season. But with that said, the team also needs to get a longer look at some of the other players on the roster.
These five players need more opportunities in the season finale than they are used to seeing.
Jaleel McLaughlin, RB
There have been times this season when I have said that Jaleel McLaughlin was the best running back on the Broncos' roster. I was only mildly serious. Now, I'm pretty much convinced of it.
Javonte Williams has clearly not been the same as he was before the major knee injury that cut his 2022 campaign short and it remains to be seen if he ever will be. Samaje Perine has been good in spots, but more as a receiver than a pure runner.
McLaughlin got 11 touches last week against the Chargers (8 rushes, 3 receptions) and he was the team's leading rusher in the game, averaging 5.5 yards per carry as compared to Williams' 2.7 and Perine's 2.5. However, he has been used on just 18.2 percent of the team's offensive snaps this season.
McLaughlin should get a healthy workload against the Raiders to see if he can handle a bigger role on offense going forward. It seems that the offense would have the potential to be much more dynamic with him on the field more often as opposed to him not being out there as much.