Why They Won: Green Bay Wins In Oakland

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Nov 1, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Green Bay Packers tackle David Bakhtiari (69) walks the sidelines late in the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Packer 29-10. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Bookend Blockers

This year has seen the Raiders finally show signs of turning things around after over a decade of mostly flailing as a franchise.

A big part of this positive resurgence lies in finally finding some much-needed quality through the draft. At the forefront of that has been Khalil Mack, who is fast becoming one of the best players on the defensive side of the ball (and already one of my favorite young non-Packers to keep track of).

After a decent rookie year, Mack has been downright terrifying at times this season, with no better example than just one week prior; in a game against Denver, the Raiders defense came to life in a big way, mostly due to a monstrous performance from Mack that included 5 sacks.

With the injury and ineffectiveness issues plaguing the offensive line for most of this season, this could easily be expected to be another big day for the Raiders star. With an early sack off a spin move, it seemed like that expectation would be fulfilled pretty quickly.

But that sack would be the only real impact Mack made.

According to Pro Football Focus’ grading system, even with that one sack Mack ended the day with one of his worst performances of the season (+0.1); that is especially impressive considering he grades out as their best edge defender on the season (+94.3).

The main people to give credit to for holding Mack in check? Look no further than the Packers’ offensive tackles.

Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari haven’t exactly had stellar years; injuries and lackluster-at-times play from them have been the biggest reasoning behind why this line has dropped off in quality by leaps and bounds from the surprising strength it turned out to be in 2014.

They are still quality players regardless of the underwhelming results at times in 2015, and this game was a good showing of that. Though Bulaga was actually rated negatively by Pro Football Focus (-2.0), he and Bakhtiari (+4.3) were mostly left to block in 1-vs-1 matchups all game long; considering that besides the one early sack given to Mack — and one other to another player — these two kept their quarterback on his feet, that is a great showing.

Bakhtiari especially was good here, with his +4.3 PFF rating for the contest being by far the best showing of anybody on Green Bay.

Going forward, these two — as well as the rest of the offensive line — need to continue showing they can play well and handle 1-vs-1 assignments; the better they can do, the more they can allow a still-struggling offense to try to find themselves — or at least give them a larger margin for error.

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