The Las Vegas Raiders Defense Needs to Set the Tone in Week 7

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After a crucial 34-24 Week 6 victory over the Denver Broncos┬áin Rich Bisaccia’s debut as head coach, the Las Vegas Raiders head back home. The opponent, the Philadelphia Eagles, are coming off of a 28-22 loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday. Records aside, this should be a hard-fought game between two young rosters. In 2021, the Raiders defense has proven to be capable, something this franchise hasn’t seen in years. The Week 7 match-up won’t be much different than the season so far; the defense will need to set the tone. Turnovers and sacks will play a key factor in the game and the result.

The Las Vegas Raiders Defense Needs to Set the Tone Against Philadelphia

The Raiders spent a large part of the 2021 off-season adding to one of the league’s worst defenses. With a vast amount of additions to the defense, improvement seemed imminent. However, the amount of improvement is shocking. The Raiders are seventh in the league in sacks and fifth in pressures, in large part due to the dominant duo of Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue coming off the edge. The Raiders also are getting great production from rookie safety Trevon Moehrig and veteran corner Casey Hayward Jr. To win this game against the Eagles, the Raiders defense is going to need to come up big early and often.

Get Pressure on Jalen Hurts

Hurts has struggled in 2021, but still has some major playmaking abilities. Hurts becomes inaccurate and mistake prone under pressure, and that’s going to be a crucial part of this game. If the Raiders can continue their dominance rushing the passer, it should create opportunities for takeaways. With Maxx Crosby and company coming after him, the Raiders should be able to force Hurts to make a game-changing mistake. The key to victory so far this season for the Raiders has been winning the turnover battle and winning the sack battle; both should be achievable on Sunday with a young quarterback and a struggling team coming into Allegiant Stadium.

Contain the Playmakers

The Raiders have been able to contain the big play for the most part in 2021. However, Sunday should be a tall task, with Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith on the outside. Smith is averaging 15.5 yards a catch in 2021 and has big play potential on every snap. The Raiders are banged up at cornerback, and likely don’t want to match Casey Hayward Jr. with him too often. Aside from Smith, Miles Sanders presents big-play ability out of the backfield, despite his relatively limited usage. The Raiders must avoid putting themselves in vulnerable positions. This means a big day for new corner Brandon Facyson, who was recently signed off of the Los Angeles Chargers practice squad, and second-year corner Amik Robertson. In Week 6, the Raiders rode the hot hand at outside corner. Expect to see the same strategy implemented in Week 7, as Las Vegas looks to contain the electric group of receivers.

Stop the Run

If the Raiders defense can improve against the run, this unit could really begin to control games. It’s helpful that the Eagles have struggled on the ground in 2021. Miles Sanders has been criminally under-utilized, posting only 42 carries on the season. Sanders averaged 6.7 yards a carry last week against Tampa Bay, and Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has been under fire for his misuse of the run game. The Raiders are giving up 4.6 yards per carry in 2021, something the Eagles will try to exploit on Sunday. Keeping the Eagles in long-yardage third downs will be key, forcing Hurts to beat them with his arm.

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