The Las Vegas Raiders have hopes of making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, but it will all depend on the defense.
For many years, the Las Vegas Raiders organization has become accustomed to subpar defensive play. However, in 2021, that is no longer the case, as the Raiders defense has undergone a complete makeover that has undoubtedly made them the team’s most consistent and most formidable unit.
The defense is allowing the sixth least yards per offensive play in the NFL as it stands now. In addition, they rank second in the league per Pro Football Focus in pass-rushing their grade behind the Los Angeles Rams. More specifically, the team’s defensive front is winning the majority of the team’s contests this season.
The Raiders defensive line must keep their form to ensure a playoff run
The Silver and Black blitz the least (11.7%) among all NFL defenses. Moreover, when you possess the NFL’s leader in quarterback pressures in defensive end Maxx Crosby, it makes life much more chaotic for opposing offenses and less so for the Raider secondary.
He’s not doing it alone, though, as just about every defensive lineman has made their presence felt in contests. But, more importantly, a force has risen within the interior of the defensive front in the person of Solomon Thomas.
With Thomas playing with the intensity displayed above, paired with Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue on the outside, the defense will maintain their reliability down the stretch. But, unfortunately, reliable is not a word that seems to echo in the offensive section of the locker room, and that cannot continue.
You also never know which Raiders offense will show up, and it ultimately puts more pressure on the defense.
This season, the offense has scored more than thirty points in five out of six of the Raiders’ wins. The lone exception was against the Pittsburgh Steelers – when the offense only scored twenty-six but were able to be victorious. Simply put, the offense must find some consistency and show more success in sustaining drives. Otherwise, it will leave the defense on the field for far too long – rendering them useless due to exhaustion.
The Las Vegas Raiders are looking to improve to 3-1 this season against the NFC East, after upsetting the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving in Dallas.
The offense down the stretch does not have to light up scoreboards, but they will not be doing the defense any favors when they only convert on 34.4% of their third downs. That is good enough for fourth-worst in the league, and that must improve if the Raiders want to have a legitimate hope of making the playoffs on the back’s of their defense should the offense not be able to get into gear.