The Oakland Raiders’ recent victory over the Denver Broncos was a huge interdivision upset. It was almost expected that the Broncos would pull away with the win, and the chance to keep a firm grip on the AFC West. Due to their win however, the Raiders now stand at 6-7, only two games behind the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It’s a victory we needed…over this last month of the season, we get everyone in our division, and we want to play our best 60 minutes each week out,” said Raiders’ head coach Jack Del Rio. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, but it was a heck of a win for us.”
The Broncos were actually dominating the game as it reached halftime, having accumulated over 200 yards at the hands of quarterback Brock Osweiler in the first two quarters alone. Additionally, the Broncos defense was able to hold the Raiders to only one four-yard run within the first half.
Despite the poor first half performance from the Raiders however, outside linebacker Khalil Mack managed to help turn it around, as he earned five total sacks against Osweiler, two of which were in the third quarter, while three were in the fourth. In fact, Mack is the first player to record five sacks in a game since teammate Aldon Smith, who also recorded five back in 2012.
“Mack is a great player. We tried to help a little bit on him, but sometimes when you’re back there, you’ve got to hold up,” said Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak. “We didn’t hold up. He played on our left, he played on our right, he played everywhere. He’s a great player. Just give him credit.”
While winning a division game can only be helpful, it may be too late in the season for the Raiders to hope for advancement into the playoffs. Because they trail the Chiefs by two games, and the Broncos by four, any shot at the playoffs would be contingent upon collective losses of both the Chiefs and the Broncos.
But as we saw this past Sunday, anything can happen. The Raiders will face the Green Bay Packers in Oakland on Sunday, and while the Packers may hold a better record at 9-4, there’s no guarantee that they’ll win.
If Mack can manage another spectacular game by putting added pressure on Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, then the Raiders have a solid chance at holding their own, with the potential to move up to a 7-7 record.