This week we look at the Oakland Raiders.
Initial Assumptions, Prior Bias and Basic analysis
The Raiders have recently been a downtrodden franchise plagued by dumb decisions in the FO and dumb mistakes on the field. This year under Dennis Allen they seemed to have improved somewhat cutting down drastically on the turnovers and significantly on the penalties as well. Specific Prior bias: Darren McFadden is good (when healthy), Carson Palmer isn’t very good (anymore), defense is particularly penalty prone. The Raiders come into this game with a 1-3 record.
Points Scored (PS) = 16.75
Points allowed (PA) = 31.25
Which means...Mediocre Offense and Bad Defense. In addition, the Raiders have managed this against mediocre opposition (Opposition Record: 7-8, Opposition Point Differential: + 0.92). The Raiders could possibly be the worst team we will face all year.
The one redeeming aspect of the 2012 Raiders offense is that they don’t shoot themselves in the foot. They have protected the QB (7 sacks in 5 games, 4th in league), they have protected the football (3 turnovers in 5 games) and they have minimized penalties (2nd best in NFL).
Other than that though, the Raiders are very… Meh. They rush the ball at 3.4 yards per attempt (YPA) for 60.8 yards per game (Worst in NFL). They convert 61% of their pass attempts at 6.7 yards per attempt (YPA) (24th in NFL) and a passer rating of 86 (16th in NFL). Lastly, they successfully convert 3rd downs at 27.45% (28th in NFL).
To be fair they still have DMac and he is still a threat but so far he’s been decidedly NOT threatening. They also have Carson Palmer and he has played much better than last year when he was happy to pass to any open man no matter the color of their jersey. This year he has been more careful with ball throwing only two interceptions in 5 games while still throwing 40 passes a game. Other than that though, his stats are Chad Pennington like as seen above.
If you asked me for good things about the Raiders Run Defense, I’d say they allow 4.25 YPC, good for 19th in the league. They’ve also managed to force 4 fumbles and recover 3 of them (good for 18th and 16th in the league respectively).
Conversely, if you asked me for even one good thing about the Raiders Pass Defense, I’d be completely lost. Let me illustrate by presenting the numbers without any comments.
Opposition Completion percentage = 71.5% (2nd worst in NFL)
Opposition yards per attempt = 7.64 (12th worst in NFL)
Passing TDs allowed = 9 (9th worst in NFL)
Interceptions = 0 (Worst in NFL)
Opponent Passer Rating = 113.4 (Worst in NFL)
Sacks = 3 (Worst in NFL)
3rd down conversion = 53.33% (Worst in NFL)
Penalties = 26 for 210 yards (6th worst in NFL)
Interesting Statistical Battle
Through 5 games it has become pretty clear that the Falcons run D is not very good. They have allowed the opposition 5.4 YPA (2nd worst in NFL) and 142.8 YPG (6th worst in NFL). The Raiders running game as mentioned above is not very good either. They managed to put up 119 yards at 5.7 YPA against the banged up Steelers but they have struggled against everyone else. In addition, they have a mediocre passing game so the Falcons have no need to focus on it specifically.
This might be the game we find out how bad our run D really is. If DMac and the Raiders running game have a good day against us, you can pretty much assume that every other team will be able to run the ball down our throats also.
Moral of the Story
On the face of it, this looks like a blowout but the last two games have made me cautious. In addition, Stevie Nicks is injured which hurts our run D even more. Lastly, the Raiders are coming off a bye giving them extra time to prepare. This would be a perfect trap game if we hadn’t already had trap games the last two weeks. Therefore, this game feels like a barometer game. If we come out early and blow them away all is well in Falconland and the last two weeks were nothing to worry about. If we start slow for a third game in a row though, I begin to wonder if the Falcons have a tendency to play down to their opponents and take them for granted.
In terms of strategy I expect the Raiders to run the ball and shorten the game as much as possible. I think they will be fairly successful too and DMac will have his second 100 yard day of the season. On the flip side, I think the Falcons will start slow again and let the Raiders hang around till halftime. They will blow the barn doors off in the second half though, winning comfortably behind a couple of Carson Palmer interceptions. Palmer has been quite good at ball protection this year but in the last two years he has averaged 1.6 interceptions per 40 pass attempts. I’m willing to bet he turns back into an interception throwing machine once the Falcons Offense turns the afterburners on and the pressure is on him to make the big play.
Lastly, despite the decent Raiders run D, I expect MT to have a 100 yard day. The Raiders allow 128.5 YPG which is mostly because teams are trying to kill clock late in the game but then again the Falcons will be doing that as well.
- I wasn’t able to watch the first three quarters of the Redskins game. Can anybody tell me why we started so slow? Was it the Falcons Offense or the Redskins Defense?
- My first reaction to Drew Brees breaking Johnny Unitas record was...Meh, it’s a passing league. But on looking a little deeper I discovered that its remarkably hard to do, even in this day and age. Only 5 QBs ever went even 30 games with a TD pass and Peyton Manning isn’t one of them. In fact, even when you reduce the sample size to just 20 consecutive games there are only 25 QBs on that list. And the latest man there (and this is the part that will interest Falcoholics), a Matthew Thomas Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons Football Club.
- Matt Ryan has to be the best quarterback ever in the fourth quarter that does not have a playoff win (yet).
Disclaimer: I will be using stats from the current seasons most often unless I'm talking about individual players which means in the first few weeks the sample size is very, very small. So I will use my subjective views more than I would if I had more data. Stats used in this article are from ESPN.com.