Oakland

Khalil Mack is Leading Revived Raiders Defense

With two sacks and continuous pressure on Broncos Sunday night, Mack is the spark that has ignited improving Oakland defense

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In 2015, Khalil Mack was selected All-Pro for the first time. In 2016, he may be even better.

In Sunday night’s 30-20 Raiders’ victory over the Denver Broncos, Mack was an almost unstoppable force. He had two sacks, a forced fumble and was in on three tackles. But those numbers don’t do him justice for the true impact he had on the game.

Sam Monson of the analytics website Pro Football Focus selected Mack No. 1 on his weekly list of the 10 best players in the NFL this past weekend.

“Mack tore the Denver Broncos to pieces on ‘Sunday Night Football,’ beating Broncos right tackle Donald Stephenson for eight total pressures and notching 10 overall in the Raiders’ win,” wrote Monson.

Monson called Mack a “one-man wrecking crew” who destroyed the Broncos offense.

Mack has had back-to-back games with two sacks and has six over his past four games. He now ranks tied for 6th in the NFL with seven sacks. He also ranks as the NFL’s No. 2 edge defender n PFF’s grades, just behind the Eagles Brandon Graham. He’s been stellar as both a pass rusher and run defender.

Josh Liskiewitz of Pro Football Focus also noted that Mack was able to get a pressure on Broncos QB Trevor Siemian once every 3.7 pass-rush snaps, and his work helped free teammates such as Bruce Irvin (six hurries) and Darius Latham (three hurries) to also disrupt Siemian’s time in the pocket.

Overall, the Raiders defense held the Broncos to their second-fewest yards this season. After back-to-back games early in the year when Oakland allowed more than 500 yards to opposing offenses, the defense has settled in and is starting to make big plays and be more consistent.

The Raiders have a bye this Sunday, then get back into action on Monday night, Nov. 21, vs. the Houston Texans in Mexico City. Head coach Jack Del Rio likes where his 7-2 team is headed.

“What we’ve got to do is continue to grow, continue to do the things that have helped us play much better defensively the last several weeks,” he told the Sacramento Bee. “I know what, in my mind, I think we’re capable of. And we’re getting there, but we’re not there yet.”

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