Chris Johnson opened the 2009 season rushing for a meager 57 yards against a tough Pittsburgh defense. However, I would argue it was the Pittsburgh defense that stopped Chris Johnson. The Steeler's offense possessed the ball for over 36 minutes and ran 70 plays on the way to an overtime victory.
In week five Johnson was held to 34 yards on the grounds by the Indianapolis offense. The Colts got up early on the Titans forcing Tennessee's hand on offense. The Colts dictated the game by converting 23 first down compared to the Titan's 12. In addition the Colts we in the neighborhood of 60% third down efficiency. While the Colts only ran 10 more plays than the Titans, they possessed the ball for almost 7 more minutes; that's almost half a quarter or an eighth of the game.
After week 6, it's only fair to mention Kerry Collins was benched and Chris Johnson promptly caught fire with the Titans finishing up 8-2.
Most of the focus this week has been on the (hopefully) improved Raider run defense with nearly every media outlet mentioning last years 27th ranked run defense up against last years rushing champion.
Well as we all know "statistics can be fun." Arguably there are only two important rankings on defense; forced turnovers and points allowed. The Raider defense did not force a lot of turnovers in 2009 which is directly correlated to poor offensive play.
Opposing teams were overly conservative against the Raider defense because the Raider offense gave them no reason not to be. Oakland finished with a -13 turnover ratio, often putting the defense in awful positions. When the D did force a turnover you know who gave it right back.
The Oakland D gave up 23.7 points per game, not good. More interesting is that nearly 15% of those points were from turnovers and almost 23% of the scoring drives were started in Oakland territory. All the result of an offense that didn't control the ball.
I'd love to see the Oakland front seven hold Johnson to about 50 yards but it's not necessary. Johnson broke 100 yards in 4 losses last year including a 197 yard day in a loss to the Texans.
This Sunday look for Jason Campbell, Michael Bush (I hope), Darren McFadden, Zack Miller, Louis Murphy and DHB to stop Chris Johnson by keeping the ball out of his hands. Controlling time of possession and racking up first downs is the key to a Raider victory.
Some Random Predictions.
Tommy Kelly 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss
Seymour 5 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
Nnamdi Asomugha no receptions allowed, 1 interception
Marcel Reece 75 yards receiving
Chris Johnson 130 yards rushing on 23 attempts
Rolando McCLain 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Mike Mitchell 1 sack
DHB 5 catches 80 yards
Miller 8 catches 72 yards, 1 TD
Murphy 4 catches 106 yards, 1 TD
McFadden 60 rushing, 58 Receiving, 1 TD
Raiders 27 Titans 24