Oakland Raiders are coming off a truly devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Ste..."/> Oakland Raiders are coming off a truly devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Ste..."/>

Oakland Raiders: Keys To Victory Over Minnesota Vikings

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Nov 8, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith (99) celebrates a sack as Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) lays injured on the ground during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 38-35. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Pressure, Pressure, Pressure

With Aldon Smith coming off one edge and Khalil Mack coming off the other, you would think the Raiders would have one of the scariest pass rushes in the league.

Strangely enough, that hasn’t been the case. Not even close to it.

While both Smith and Mack have excelled in run defense – both rank in Pro Football Focus’ top ten run stuffing linebackers in a 3-4 defense – neither has been a real monster of a pass rusher. Mack leads the team with four sacks and Smith is third with 2.5 but as a unit, Oakland’s defense has tallied just 15 sacks on the year.

It’s a strange, strange thing.

They can help turn the tide, defensively speaking, if they can make the most of the opportunities they have. There were multiple opportunities for them to take down Ben Roethlisbeger last week, only to fail to wrap him up and drop him. Aldon Smith recorded the only sack of the day.

Next: Raiders Need A Physical Presence In Secondary

And they’ll have some shots against Minnesota. The Vikings have given up 20 sacks of Bridgewater this year, so their line isn’t exactly impenetrable. Dan Williams, Justin Ellis, and Mario Edwards will need to step it up and provide a good push up the middle. They’ll need to collapse the pocket around Bridgewater and if they don’t get him themselves, give the pass rushers the opportunity to get in there and bring him down.

Pressuring Bridgewater, forcing him out of the pocket, and forcing him to throw before he’s properly set and ready will benefit the secondary and the defensive effort as a whole. To have real success on the defensive side of the ball, the Raiders have got to find a way to generate sustained pressure on the quarterback. Might as well be this week, right?