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Which 3 Raiders On Defense Need To Have Big Performances?

Today is the day, Raider Nation! This Sunday Night Football matchup could determine how the season goes for the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.

The Raiders come in 5-3 after having a letdown against the New York Giants last week. The Chiefs come in at 5-4 and haven’t looked like the Super Bowl favorite that they have been these last few years. When it comes to Raiders and Chiefs, you throw out the records with this game having major implications on this season. These are the three players on defense that need to step up for the Silver and Black to come out on top and get back on track.

Yannick Ngakoue

It may seem odd to say he needs to step up, but the Raiders will need Ngakoue in this game to play the best he can. Right now, Ngakoue does have six sacks, per ESPN, and they’ve come in the last four games as in three of those last four, Ngakoue has recorded two sacks. 

He is on a good run as he has the opportunity to record his third straight game of multiple sacks, which would be the first Raider to do that since this one guy named Khali Mack. The Chiefs have given up 17 sacks, and the Raiders have recorded 21, so the opportunity for more is there. Ngakoue has to break apart the offensive line and force mistakes if he’s not able to get the sacks. Considering the way he’s been playing, it is not far-fetched.

Casey Hayward Jr.

This man Hayward has been a revelation this season. After being picked up in the offseason, many expected Hayward to be a mentor and play as needed. Instead, Hayward has been the best player in the secondary and is yet to give up a touchdown reception. He currently holds an 81.7 overall grade through Pro Football Focus and was a midseason All-Pro through PFF.

Considering the weapons that Patrick Mahomes will have at his disposal, Hayward will need to be at his best. Hayward currently has yet to pick off his first pass this season. However, Mahomes has thrown ten this season and has had many dropped as well. What time is better than now to snatch up his first interception for the Raiders. 

The renaissance that Hayward has experienced this season has been noteworthy. He has established himself as a defensive leader and been a rock through this turbulent season. It is his first season with the Raiders, so he was not a part of the two late-season collapses. However, he could be a major piece in changing the fortunes of this team. There is no time like the present, and if Hayward shines as he’s done throughout the year, the Raiders could be sitting at 6-3 come late Sunday evening.

Johnathan Abram

A moment that haunted the Raiders last season was Abram leaving his zone during the Chiefs’ game-winning touchdown pass in the second meeting. The ridicule surrounding Abram’s mental lapses throughout last season grew, and the plays were hard to ignore. This season Abram has played well and has not been making so many mental mistakes. He has kept himself under control and is currently third on the team with 62 total tackles. 

He was beaten on a touchdown pass by Evan Engram last week which may not be the best thing as this week he goes up against arguably the best tight end in the league in Travis Kelce. Abram needs to try and wipe the memories of last season out, and a performance to remember against the Chiefs would go a long way. He can lay the spy when needed, come up to the line and play coverage, but we all know what he is known for…

He needs to deliver some game-altering hits and bring the crowd up. Can he bring it and help take the Raiders to 6-3?

*Top Photo: Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun

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