Oakland Raiders: Week 1 Stat Predictions

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August 30, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Khalil Mack (52) during the second quarter in a preseason NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals at O.co Coliseum. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 30-23. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Khalil Mack

There aren’t many players heading into the 2015 regular season with more weight on their shoulders than Mack. With his success both in his rookie campaign and this year’s preseason, Mack is expected to heavily increase his production in comparison to 2014 and as a result, start positively impacting the Raiders’ win column.

In 2014 Mack earned 76 combined tackles and four sacks in 16 games. Though he was well recognized for his performance against the run, Mack constantly put pressure on the quarterback when rushing off the edge despite earning just four sacks.

In Oakland’s third preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, Mack beat left tackle Jared Veldheer to sack quarterback Carson Palmer twice in the first half.

Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has taken notice of Mack’s recent success.

“He’s fast, he’s sudden, he’s strong, he’s got spin moves, he’s got karate moves. The guy is a rolling ball of butcher knives,”Jackson said, via Coley Harvey of ESPN.com. “He can play.”

Though I do expect Mack to have a considerable amount of success slicing up the Bengals’ offense, he faces a true challenge against left tackle Andrew Whitworth. The former second-round pick in 2006 has had a long, successful career in the NFL as a productive offensive linemen, and he is continuing to prove his worth late into his career.

According to Pro Football Focus, Whitworth allowed zero sacks and just nine total pressures in 16 starts in 2014. As a result, PFF ranked him as the third-best offensive linemen in 2014.

Del Rio and Norton Jr. will have to figure out how to best utilize Mack in passing situations, for his production will be limited if he lines up against Whitworth for the duration of the game.

Stat Prediction:

9 combined tackles (6 solo) including 2 tackles for loss and 1 sack

Next: Week 1 Predictions: Latavius Murray