The Oakland Raiders have fired their defensive coordinator, their offensive coordinator is on the hot seat, and the team cannot seem to pull it together. A win against the Denver Broncos could keep the Raiders slim chances alive. The AFC West seems to be up for grabs. No team has been able to run away with the division. On Sunday, Oakland was able to beat the Broncos 21-14. Now at 5-6, the Raiders can keep their playoff hopes alive for now.

The John Pagano Effect

Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. was fired by Oakland after a very disappointing stint with the Silver & Black. John Pagano was brought in to Oakland to be the possible replacement in 2017. Pagano saw his first action as Oakland’s coordinator against the Broncos. Even though Oakland’s defense fell apart in the final quarter, they were a stingy group through most of the game.

Oakland shut out Denver through three quarters and recorded four sacks and one interception in today’s win. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman recorded Oakland’s first sack of the season. Denico Autry had himself a game with two sacks. Oakland only recorded two games with four sacks and an interception with Norton as defensive coordinator. Pagano accomplished those numbers in his first game. The Raiders defense has a long way to go, but with an experienced coordinator like Pagano at the helm, they might be able to make a late run in 2017.

Run Lynch Run

Marshawn Lynch hasn’t really had the impact the Raiders were hoping he’d have. Today, Lynch was the focal point of the offense with both Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper leaving the game early due to an ejection and an injury. Lynch made the most of his opportunities. The running back rushed the ball 26 times for 67 yards and one touchdown.

Those 26 attempts are the most for Lynch all season long. Most of the yardage came after contact. Lynch was able to wear down the Broncos defense, and kept Oakland’s offense on the field. Those might not be eye popping numbers, but in the context of the game, they were extremely effective. Oakland will need to continue to feed Marshawn if they want their offense to stay back on track.

Still in the Race

Oakland is now 5-6 on the season, and 2-2 in their division. The Kansas City Chiefs remain on top on the AFC West at 6-5. Both the Raiders and the Los Angeles Chargers sit tied in second place with identical records. Oakland needs to keep winning, and more importantly win in their division. No team in the AFC West has been able to pull away from the rest of the division. Kansas City continues to lose games after starting hot, and the Chargers are slowly winning games after starting 0-4.

Oakland has five more games to play. They will have to win just about every one of them to put themselves in a good position. If the Chargers and Chiefs struggle even more, it will mean great things for the Raiders.

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