One of the most surprising outcomes of the season has been the effectiveness of Gus Bradley’s defense this season. The defense currently ranks 25th in points per game allowed, but that’s actually not a great way to judge the unit as there have been a lot of garbage-time scores against Las Vegas.
In a recent article by Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus, he ranked all 32 defenses after Week 11. The Raiders actually saw their unit drop from No. 11 down to No. 20 this week after allowing over 30 points to the Bengals.
In his write-up, Monson talked about the elite pass-rush duo for the Raiders that has allowed them to have success. Here is a snippet of his thoughts on the unit:
“The Raiders are still leading the league in pressure rate, applying heat on opposing quarterbacks 40.5% of the time — thanks largely to an incredible season from Maxx Crosby…(He) leads the league with 66 total pressures and is on pace to tie J.J. Watt’s single-season record with 119, albeit with an extra game to get there.
Crosby has been effective even against better tackles and is teaming with a resurgent Yannick Ngakoue to give the Raiders a legitimate pass-rush threat on every dropback.”
The Raiders will have their hands full on Thursday as they take on the No. 1 offense in the NFL in the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas will be without Amari Cooper (and likely CeeDee Lamb), so they will be a bit easier to defend than usual.
Still, the defense will need Crosby and Ngakoue to have monster games in order to slow down this offensive juggernaut.
The Raiders’ defense is certainly improved since last season, but these types of games against elite offense will show just how far they’ve come under Bradley.
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