After garnering a ton of goodwill from the fanbase for their 3-1 run under interim head coach Raheem Morris, the Falcons blew it all in spectacular fashion with a thorough shellacking at the hands of the Saints and backup QB Taysom Hill. The offense was a disaster and the defense, despite a solid performance for them, was still a significant issue. Atlanta is now sitting at 3-7 and are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
Next up is a matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders, who have been surprisingly competitive this season en route to a 6-4 record. QB Derek Carr has been having a much better year overall than in 2019, and RB Josh Jacobs has been a force when healthy. For the Falcons (and Morris, if he wants to have a shot at the HC job in 2021), every game from here on out is a must win.
Can the Falcons pull off the upset over the Raiders on Sunday? Let’s compare the offensive and defensive statistics for both teams heading into Week 12.
OFFENSE - WEEK 10
|Points/game||21.9 (21st)||30.1 (3rd)|
|Total yards/game||338.0 (20th)||434.3 (1st)|
|Yards per play||5.3 (T-22nd)||6.4 (1st)|
|Passing yards/game||257.6 (12th)||291.5 (4th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.1 (T-18th)||8.2 (T-5th)|
|Sack Percentage||4.4% (8th)||4.5% (9th)|
|Rushing yards/game||80.4 (29th)||142.8 (3rd)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||3.4 (31st)||4.9 (T-4th)|
|Scoring Efficiency||37.9% (19th)||46.0% (4th)|
|Red Zone Efficiency||63.0% (12th)||58.6% (16th)|
|Turnover Percentage||11.5% (T-18th)||11.5% (T-18th)|
|Third Down Efficiency||43.5% (10th)||46.1% (4th)|
In scoring, the Raiders are clearly the better of the two teams. Las Vegas is currently 8th, while Atlanta has fallen even further from their early-season numbers to 16th. In total yardage, the Falcons still just barely hold on to a top-10 (9th) spot after a bad day in New Orleans. Meanwhile, the Raiders are at an above-average 14th. In yards per play, Las Vegas once again has the advantage as they are T-9th while Atlanta is just T-18th. Efficiency and scoring have both been significant weaknesses for the Falcons in 2020. The Raiders, however, have tended to overperform their yardage numbers in both scoring and efficiency.
In total passing yardage, the Falcons come out on top as they remain 2nd in the league with 280.6 yards per game. The Raiders have struggled a bit through the air, as they’re just 20th with only 235.2 yards per game. In yards per attempt, however, the two teams are tied at T-8th with 7.7. Once again, this statistic shows that much of the Falcons yardage has come through volume and not necessarily through a lot of successful plays. Meanwhile, the Raiders have been very efficient through the air in comparison to their overall yardage numbers.
On the ground, the Raiders have the clear advantage. Las Vegas is currently 7th in rushing yardage while the Falcons have continued to free fall all the way down to 23rd on the back of a series of awful performances. In yards per carry, the Raiders are also significantly ahead with 4.4 (T-11th) to Atlanta’s very bad 3.7 (30th). Dirk Koetter is once again proving he cannot coordinate a successful rushing attack, while Las Vegas has been quite good under Gruden and star RB Josh Jacobs.
The advanced statistics overall paint a pretty damning picture of Atlanta’s offense, while showcasing some of the reasons for Las Vegas’ success this season. In scoring efficiency, the Raiders are among the league’s best (53.0%, 2nd) while the Falcons are a fringe top-10 unit (10th). However, in red zone efficiency, you can really see where the gulf in scoring comes from: the Falcons are an awful 28th with just a 51.4% TD rate, while the Raiders are about league-average at T-16th (61.5% TD rate).
On third down, the Raiders have put together an incredible season thus far and are the NFL’s top offense in 3rd down conversions (51.6%). Meanwhile, the Falcons have fallen significantly after a miserable 2-14 day against the Saints—they’re now 20th in the NFL with a 40.4% conversion rate. Both teams have managed to protect the football well, though the Falcons (9.0% TO rate, 8th) hold the slight advantage over the Raiders (10.0%, 10th). In pass protection, Las Vegas boasts one of the best offensive lines in the game and are currently T-7th in sack rate. Atlanta has been about league-average over the course of the season, but have fallen to T-20th after allowing 8 sacks to the Saints.
Offensive Advantage: Raiders
DEFENSE - WEEK 10
|Points/game||27.5 (28th)||24.0 (T-18th)|
|Total yards/game||360.5 (17th)||371.5 (21st)|
|Yards per play||5.6 (T-17th)||6.0 (T-27th)|
|Passing yards/game||237.4 (13th)||270.5 (25th)|
|Passing yards per attempt||7.1 (T-10th)||7.8 (T-22nd)|
|Pressure Rate||18.6% (31st)||25.1% (16th)|
|Rushing yards/game||123.1 (24th)||101.0 (10th)|
|Rushing yards per attempt||4.4 (T-19th)||4.3 (T-14th)|
|Scoring Efficiency||43.9% (25th)||35.9% (13th)|
|Red Zone Efficiency||66.7% (T-21st)||68.0% (25th)|
|Turnover Percentage||8.5% (24th)||15.2% (6th)|
|Third Down Efficiency||47.9% (30th)||34.7% (7th)|
Neither of these defenses is particularly good overall. The Falcons hold the slight advantage—and I mean slight—in scoring defense, allowing 27.5 PPG (25th) to the Raiders’ 27.6 (26th). In total yardage allowed, Atlanta is among the league’s worst at 29th while Las Vegas is merely below-average at 23rd. In yards per play allowed, the Falcons are the league’s worst, allowing an incredible 6.4 yards per play. The Raiders aren’t much better, allowing 6.0 yards per play (T-26th).
The Falcons remain the NFL’s 2nd-worst passing defense in pretty much all relevant statistics—overshadowed only by the Seahawks—while the Raiders are merely a pretty bad passing defense. Atlanta is 31st in passing yardage allowed compared to 28th for Las Vegas. In yards per attempt, the Falcons are also 31st while the Raiders are significantly better at 18th.
The Falcons are still a top-10 run defense, though they’ve been struggling more in recent weeks, and the Raiders are right behind them. Atlanta is currently 9th in rushing yardage allowed compared to 12th for Las Vegas. In yards per carry, both teams are actually tied at 18th with 4.4. This means that each of these defenses are probably a little less impressive at stopping the run than the yardage numbers show due to the low number of carries against them.
The advanced statistics continue to telling a very puzzling story for the Falcons, while showing some significant weaknesses for the Raiders. For starters, Atlanta is actually just below-average in overall scoring efficiency (21st) but are among the league’s worst in red zone efficiency (31st, allowing TDs on 75.8% of red zone trips). Las Vegas is the opposite: among the worst in overall scoring efficiency (30th) while being stingier in the red zone (22nd).
Both teams have been largely league-average at producing turnovers on defense, with Atlanta at T-19th and Las Vegas at 18th. The Falcons have the significant advantage on third down, however, as the team has been surprisingly effective: allowing just a 38.5% conversion rate (8th). The Raiders struggle mightily on this crucial down, allowing a 48.0% conversion rate (27th). In the pass rushing department, Atlanta continues to produce pressure at an above-average rate (10th), while the Raiders are slightly below-average at 19th.
Defensive Advantage: Raiders
Statistically, the story is pretty clear here: the Raiders are stronger on both sides of the ball, although not by much. Las Vegas is more efficient on offense and scores at a much higher rate than Atlanta, and features a very good rushing attack. While the Falcons are more effective overall in passing, that hasn’t translated into points enough to matter. The Raiders are also significantly better in pass protection and on third down, which will make it difficult for the Falcons to have much success on defense.
On defense, neither team is good, but the Raiders have slight advantages overall. Both teams struggle in scoring defense, but the Falcons are awful in yardage allowed while the Raiders are merely below-average. Atlanta can’t stop the pass at all, while Las Vegas has been hurt somewhat by a high passing volume—their yards per attempt allowed are actually solid. The Falcons are significantly better on third down and at rushing the passer, but that hasn’t really translated into enough stops for Atlanta thus far.
Overall, the Raiders are favored here according to the statistics. There aren’t major differences on either side of the ball save for a few specific areas, but Las Vegas is better in most of the categories that really matter (efficiency and scoring, namely). I’d expect a competitive game based on how these teams look on paper—much depends on the health of Julio Jones and if Dirk Koetter can get the offense back on track for Week 12.
Overall Projection: Raiders favored
What are your thoughts on the Falcons’ Week 12 matchup with the Raiders? Do you think Atlanta can pull off the win to keep their very narrow postseason hopes alive?