Oakland Raiders: Keys to the Game Against Denver

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Oct 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) encourages the crowd to cheer during a break in the action against the Arizona Cardinals in the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Mack Getting Sacks

Khalil Mack has been pressuring quarterbacks all season as one of the most disruptive outside linebackers in the league, grading just below the likes of JJ Watt and Von Miller in PFF rating through half of his rookie season. Getting plenty of QB pressures, Mack has also been stout in stopping the run game, but for those who analyze the box score, you may be confused when seeing people praising the fifth overall pick with no sacks halfway through his rookie season.

That is because due to some egregious liberties when it comes to holding being taken on Mack in addition to playing some of the best quarterbacks in football when it comes to having a quick release or evading the pass rusher, Mack has been blanked on the box score in terms of sacks. Missing the big play to go along with his disruptiveness in opposing backfields through the first eight games of his career.

Facing a Broncos offensive line that has been prone to given up quarterback pressures on Peyton Manning, Mack will need to ensure that he finishes his pass rushes against the NFL’s best active passer and the all-time passing touchdown leader. It will be a difficult task for Mack as Manning has been able to avoid the best pass rushers in the game for nearly two decades, making up for his lack of mobility with an ultra-quick throwing release as well as his once in a lifetime ability to read defenses at the line of scrimmage and make adjustments accordingly to avoid getting sacked.

Before the season Mack made it known that one of his goals was to sack Manning after being drafted into the AFC West. With the Raiders defense needing to find ways to make more big impact plays, getting his first career sack and rattling Peyton in the process will be a huge key to if Oakland can pull off an upset. The first sack for Mack is coming eventually, now is the best time for that to happen as a milestone setting play would be a huge lift for the Raiders if their first round draft pick can bring Manning down.