With four weeks remaining in the season, the fate of the Oakland Raiders lies in their own hands. At 6-6, Oakland sits tied for first in the AFC West. Also, in good position to steal a Wild Card spot. On both sides of the ball, the Raiders are slowly but surely getting it together. However, in an unexpected twist, the defense is carrying this team forward.
|1||Sun||September 10||1:00PM ET||boxscore||W||1-0||@||Tennessee Titans||26||16||21||350||255||95|
|2||Sun||September 17||4:05PM ET||boxscore||W||2-0||New York Jets||45||20||17||271||145||126||2|
|3||Sun||September 24||8:30PM ET||boxscore||L||2-1||@||Washington Redskins||10||27||18||472||356||116||2|
|4||Sun||October 1||4:25PM ET||boxscore||L||2-2||@||Denver Broncos||10||16||16||298||155||143|
|5||Sun||October 8||4:05PM ET||boxscore||L||2-3||Baltimore Ravens||17||30||19||365||222||143|
|6||Sun||October 15||4:25PM ET||boxscore||L||2-4||Los Angeles Chargers||16||17||20||343||263||80||1|
|7||Thu||October 19||8:25PM ET||boxscore||W||3-4||Kansas City Chiefs||31||30||19||425||331||94|
|8||Sun||October 29||1:00PM ET||boxscore||L||3-5||@||Buffalo Bills||14||34||17||331||165||166|
|9||Sun||November 5||8:30PM ET||boxscore||W||4-5||@||Miami Dolphins||27||24||23||395||309||86||1|
|11||Sun||November 19||4:25PM ET||boxscore||L||4-6||New England Patriots||8||33||25||421||332||89|
|12||Sun||November 26||4:25PM ET||boxscore||W||5-6||Denver Broncos||21||14||12||216||160||56||1|
|13||Sun||December 3||4:25PM ET||boxscore||W||6-6||New York Giants||24||17||15||265||200||65||2|
Despite a 12-4 record, the Raiders did not execute on defense in 2016. Along with allowing 257.5 passing yards per game (24th), Oakland tallied 25 sacks. These issues seemingly went unaddressed in free agency. As a result, General Manager Reggie McKenzie attempted to rectify via the NFL Draft.
Fast forward to present day, and three of the Raiders top-five picks have struggled with injury, forcing them to miss significant time. Injuries have marred this defense overall, with cornerback David Amerson reduced to six games due to concussion.
Nevertheless, Oakland’s “Bend but don’t break” defense has done their best to put the team in the best position to win. Despite being a mix of underdeveloped talent (Dexter McDonald; Eddie Vanderdoes) and players beyond their prime (Reggie Nelson), Oakland is making the best of a bad situation.
Currently, allowing 104.9 rushing yards per game (11th), and 70 yards per game over their last three games. Even with limited help in the secondary, they have risen to No. 23 as a passing defense, allowing 241.1 yards through the air per contest. In terms of scoring, Oakland is allowing 23.2 points per game (16th) and 21.3 over their last three contests. Sitting at 22 sacks on the season (25th), Oakland is still not creating enough pressure. Yet, the resurgence of Bruce Irvin and the increased production Autry, Edwards Jr., and Hester helps.
While many look at the Raiders’ schedule, citing weak opponents like the Giants and Broncos, this same defense allowed the Bills to hang 34 points. Oakland allowed below-average quarterbacks to dice them all season. For example, Jay Cutler threw for 311 yards.
Nevertheless, with playoff implications on the line, a below-average defense is giving it all that they have.