NFL Oakland Raiders

Top 5 Reason Why Oakland Raiders Have Improved In 2013-14

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5 Reasons Why the Oakland Raiders are Far Better this Season

Oakland Raiders
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders haven't been to the playoffs since their Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the end of the 2002 season. That could be on the verge of changing with the improved all-around play of the team.

It's no question that the Silver and Black are by a far a better football team than they have been in recent years, and that is led particularly by the play of the defensive group for the Raiders that seemed to appear out of thin air.

This group of no-name veterans and rookies for Oakland has performed as a cohesive group. Aside from Charles Woodson, the average fan couldn't tell you who plays on defense for the Raiders; however, they are gelling together to become one of the best defensive units in football.

Offensively, the Raiders are running the ball more efficiently and have shown flashes of brilliance in the passing game. Both are great improvements for the Raiders, who have been somewhat dismal and erratic on offense for the past couple of seasons.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor has shown people what he can do, but needs to do it more consistently in order for this team to truly put it together. Hopefully with the return of Jared Veldheer, Pryor will get added time to make throws to his speedy receivers.

A new coaching regime in Oakland has helped change the play of this talented team, and I wouldn't be surprised if they emerge as one of the better teams in the NFL by the end of the season.

The Raiders are playing football that hasn't been seen from them in years. Here are the five biggest reasons why they have shown great improvement.

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5. Denarius Moore

Denarius Moore
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Third-year wide receiver Denarius Moore is finally emerging as the player that the Oakland Raiders need him to be.

He been the leading receiver for a struggling Raiders passing game this season with 27 catches for 431 yards and four touchdowns. What remains most impressive is his 6.6 yards-after-catch average, where he is consistently getting Oakland first downs.

If there is a big play to be made in the Raiders' passing game, he's the one making it.

He has an outstanding ability to extend the field with his speed and continues to develop his route running. He will be more of a factor as the season progresses.

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4. Tracy Porter

Raiders Secondary
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders quietly have the 10th-ranked passing defense in football. Nobody has had a bigger impact on that than cornerback Tracy Porter, who Oakland picked up via free agency during the offseason.

Porter leads all Raiders defensive backs with 39 tackles, eight passes defenses and 1.5 sacks. He is also part of a five-way tie for first place with one interception.

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3. Jason Tarver

Jason Tarver
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Although Raiders' defensive coordinator Jason Tarver was recently fined by the NFL for his sideline antics last weekend, he is a tremendous defensive coach.

The Raiders' defense is playing lights out and that can be attributed heavily to the schemes of Tarver.

He has turned this Raiders unit from bad to good.

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2. The Rushing Attack

Raiders Running Game
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Pryor and with running back Darren McFadden have led this Raiders' running game that is currently fifth in the league in total yards with 968 total yards.

When healthy, this duo proves to be one of the most dangerous in football. Pryor is unbelievably electric and can't be caught in space. McFadden is a slasher type of runner who is tough to bring down.

If these two can remain healthy, the Raiders will be able to control the clock against anybody with the ability to score at any point.

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1. Defensive Chemistry

Sio Moore
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the Raiders' 3-4 record, they've played great defense, and it continues to get better.

They're sixth in rush defense and 10th in defensive yards allowed.

None of Oakland's players stand out or lead in any particular statistical category, but they play together as an outstanding unit that denies yards and shows up in big situations.

Count on this defense to come through and win games for the Raiders.