Khalil Mack has been one of the few consistent players for the Raiders so far this season. He has 2.0 sacks so far this season and if not for an offsides penalty by Bruce Irvin, Mack would have a sack in each of his three games. But the reigning Defensive Player of the Year has yet to have that big game where he takes control of the opposing offense.
The Raiders need him to do that against the Broncos in Denver today. And with the way things are set up going into this game, it looks like he will.
Playing with superstar OLB Von Miller on the other side in itself seems to get Mack going. In 2015, Mack had his epic breakout game with 5.0 sacks including a forced fumble for a safety, and he has 7.0 sacks in his last three games against the Broncos.
This week Mack is salivating to get out there against the tackles the Broncos have. At left tackle will be Garett Bolles, a rookie first-round pick that’s been banged up lately. At right tackle will be former Raider Menelik Watson, a turnstile who’s already given up 6 sacks this year. This could be trouble for the Broncos.
We can expect Mack to be disruptive and control the Broncos offense. The Broncos will likely be forced to double and triple-team him, leaving opportunities for others.
Mario Edwards Jr. is back to his disruptive self on the interior and third-round pick Eddie Vanderdoes is making his impact, so Mack is not alone. If the Broncos focus too much on Mack, Edwards and/or Vanderdoes will disrupt the Broncos offense. This could also be the week Bruce Irvin breaks out with the one-on-one blocking he’ll get.
So if it’s five sacks or none, Mack will have a big impact on the this week’s AFC West match-up.
Editor’s note: Levi Damien contributed to this article.