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Raiders vs. Broncos 2015 final score: Khalil Mack is the reason Oakland can be great

The Raiders have been impressive in every facet this season, just never at the same time.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders are a 6-7 football team after beating the Denver Broncos on Sunday, 15-12, and they deserve to be. For all of their improvement this season, they have still been inconsistent from week to week. They've hovered within a game of .500 for most of the season as a lot of mediocre teams do.

But unlike a lot of mediocre teams this season, the future is bright for the Raiders. Sunday's game against the Broncos was further proof.

The offense that had scored at least 34 points in three straight games from Weeks 7 to 9 was as bogged down as it has been in recent weeks, albeit against one of the best defenses in the league. What made Sunday's game unique was the play of the defense. The Broncos had several opportunities to run away with the game, shutting out the Raiders until the third quarter.

Khalil Mack was the best player on the field, and he made sure that Brock Osweiler and company never had a rhythm. Mack had five sacks on the day, tying Howie Long's franchise record. Osweiler didn't have a bad game -- there shouldn't be a Brock-or-Peyton controversy yet -- he just had little time to find any of his targets, who too often dropped passes.

The defense consistently stood up the Broncos. Denver settled for four field goals, three of which came after it entered the red zone, and one after making its way to Oakland's 2-yard line. Repeatedly, the Raiders front seven made things miserable for the Broncos. With first-and-goal from the Raiders' 4-yard line, running back Ronnie Hillman was stuffed for minus-1 and minus-6 yards, bring up an ill-fated third-down heave to Emmanuel Sanders.

Why this defense hasn't showed up every week is hard to say. The Raiders were giving up 26.2 points per game entering Week 14, the sixth-worst average in the league. They've given up at least 30 points in five games this season.

The Raiders' total performance was impressive, however. The Raiders had 127 yards of offense and still won. That number is even more impressive when one considers that they also won after giving up 493 yards to the Ravens earlier this season.

It's impossible to say when the Raiders' offense and defense will finally get on the same page. When it does, however, the Raiders may finally be a serious contender out of the AFC West.