Improving Defense Makes Raiders AFC West’s Most Dangerous Team

On Sunday, the Oakland Raiders hung 33 points on the Jacksonville Jaguars in a resounding victory. This isn't news—the Raiders have fielded the AFC West's best offense for most of the 2016 NFL season.

What is news, however, is a defensive effort that was one of Oakland's best this year.

If the porous Raiders defense can consistently start making stops and keeping pace with the offense, the team would be more than just a contender in the AFC West. It would be the division's most dangerous club.

To say the Oakland defense had struggled entering Week 7 is an understatement. The Raiders came into this week's action dead last in the NFL in total defense, allowing a staggering 444.8 yards per game.

The Raiders also ranked last in pass defense (312.7 yards per game) 30th in run defense (132.2 yards per game) and 24th in scoring defense (27.2 points per game). They had overcome those deficiencies thanks to their seventh-ranked offense, but earlier this week, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. told Eddie Paskal of the team's website he was well aware his unit badly needed to improve:

If you believe in your players, you believe in your coaches, you believe in yourself, obviously, you'd like the stats to be better. We're at 4-2. We're in a pretty good place record-wise, but the stats need to be better. I think that we need to continue understanding what we are, who we are and getting better at what we're doing. You see the things that are going wrong. We're missing tackles, the ball goes over our head, we'll get reached. Those little things, the details need to be taken care of.

On Sunday, those details were indeed taken care of. Jacksonville's 344 total yards were the fewest from an Oakland opponent all season. For the first time this year, the Raiders didn't allow either 350 passing yards or 125 rushing yards. And the 16 points the Jaguars scored was Oakland's best...

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