Last week, the Las Vegas Raiders came painfully close to sweeping their hated rivals, the Kansas City Chiefs. A Travis Kelce touchdown with thirty seconds left essentially put the game on ice, and while nobody loves to lose, it was hardly a loss to be upset about. Now they’re on to the Atlanta Falcons and these three Raiders defensive players need to step up.
Johnathan Abram must execute his assignment in coverage
This has been a rough week for second-year safety, Jonathan Abram. He blew his coverage of Kelce in the final minute, and now he’s hearing it on social media. Even though it was his tenth career start and he wasn’t able to practice, it wouldn’t hurt for the team’s leading tackler to have a strong game. Other than keeping his coverage, Abram also needs to do his part to police the middle of the field.
Maurice Hurst needs to give a boost to the Raiders pass rush
Opposing teams have sacked Matt Ryan in nine of ten games this year, and the Saints took him down eight times last week. For whatever reason, the Falcons offensive line can’t seem to protect their all-time leading passer. The best way to slow down Atlanta’s number-two ranked passing game is to rush, hit, and sack Ryan.
Maurice Hurst hasn’t gotten home a lot this year, and it would be nice to see that change versus the Falcons. Clelin Ferrell’s absence was greatly felt against Kansas City, and Maxx Crosby has been the only consistent Raider rusher this year. If there’s a Raider pass rusher that needs to step up, it’s Hurst.
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Damon Arnette has to bounce back
The strength of the Falcons over the last few years has been their talented receiving corps. Future Hall of Famer, Julio Jones, and his mini-me, Calvin Ridley are dangerous targets weapons in the passing game. Trayvon Mullen has had a great year, and he’ll be on one of the Falcons receivers on most plays, but the other target will need to be adequately covered as well.
Depending on who you ask, Arnette either thrived or had a tough time against the Chiefs. Nevertheless, he will probably start this week, and he’ll have to carry his weight if the defense is going to slow Atlanta’s passing game down.
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