Week Six Oakland Raiders Keys to Victory

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Every game is a “must-win”. However, with the NFL season in week six, the Oakland Raiders must focus on significant keys to victory if they don’t want to end up with a 2-4 record. After they play the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders schedule features the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs twice, the New England Patriots , the Denver BroncosDallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles. Four of those six matchups will be prime-time games. Whoever says this week isn’t a “must-win” for the Oakland Raiders is lying.

Week Six Oakland Raiders Keys to Victory

Defend the Edges

Despite the heading, this section is reserved for the offensive tackles. After week five, the Oakland Raiders offensive line is ranked as the third best unit in the NFL. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), they are the best pass protecting unit, allowing only 14 total pressures and no quarterback hits. Unfortunately, the Raiders are tied for fourth worst in the league with ten sacks allowed on the season. As good as the protection is, if there are lapses that allow the quarterback to get sacked, then the offense can not sustain success.

Donald Penn and Marshall Newhouse have to play their best football of the season and defend the edges. The Chargers feature Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on opposite ends. Sacks are drive killers and those two defenders are the top duo in the league with 12 sacks combined. The chemistry and communication must be excellent for the Raiders. Quarterback Derek Carr is coming off of a back injury and the Chargers have a goal to make him as uncomfortable as possible. Carr is already one of the worst throwers under pressure. He needs to play better in that regard, but the offensive line needs to keep him safe too.

Attack the Edges

Los Angeles Chargers left tackle Russell Okung is having his best season since 2012, but the Chargers offensive line is one of the worst in the league. On the season, the unit has given up 64 total pressures but only two sacks. Quarterback Philip Rivers leads the NFL with 14 throwaways which has prevented him from ending up on the ground too often. The Raiders must get to him quickly. Khalil Mack was missing in action against the Baltimore Ravens last week. He didn’t register any backfield stats, not a single sack, pressure or tackle for loss for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.

Keeping Rivers uncomfortable with the pressure from Mack and Mario Edwards Jr. will force bad decisions that Raiders fans have enjoyed watching Rivers make during his career. The Raiders haven’t intercepted a single pass this season and that has to change. Sacks and interceptions will create better opportunities for the Raiders offense.

More Pressure Mack

Sacking the quarterback has increasingly become more important in the NFL, but teams cannot forget about stopping the run. This puts more pressure on Mack, but he has to be the elite run stopper that the Oakland Raiders have counted on since he was a rookie. Former Wisconsin Badger running back Melvin Gordon had an impressive sophomore campaign but started slow this season. Last week he tallied his 100 yard game of the season and the Chargers gained their first win. In fact, the Chargers are 3-1 when Gordon rushes for over 100 yards. The Raiders have done a stellar job of keeping him bottled up in the two games they’ve seen him, holding him to 29 and 69 yards.

Again, Mack is the biggest reason for almost any success the Raiders defense does have. The run defense hasn’t been strong, but Mack’s elite run stopping keeps opposing offenses in check. Mack leads all edge defenders and interior defensive linemen with a run defense grade of 96.2. His overall PFF grade of 90.7 leads all edge defenders as well.

The Raiders win when Carr and Mack play their best football. That’s what the Raiders need in this must-win matchup.

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