After every loss, Coach Cable says something to the effect of, "We've studied it and now we've moved passed it. We're not going to dwell on it." Ok. I get that. No use in crying over spilled milk. Well lets look at the next 5 match ups going into the bye week and see if we can stop the milk from spilling. I'm not a stats person because especially in football because players get hurt, coaches get fired, etc, etc so a teams fortune can change for the season in a single game. However, just taking a glance at where we are right now versus upcoming opponents, it is at least worth taking a look at.
Raiders Offense vs.Opponents Defense
The next 5 games feature 3 of the leagues stingy rushing defenses in San Diego (80yds/game), Seattle (73yds/game) and Kansas City (75yds/game). With the Raiders being a run heavy team (currently ranked #4 in the NFL) will face some significant challenges in getting the ground game going. That's not opinion....that's fact. Look at how the Raiders run game fared just this past Sunday against the Texans defense who was only giving up 70 yards per game. Yes the Raiders got over the century mark in rushing but that was with their 2 best running backs getting about 50 each. Not exactly what they planned on I'm sure and it yielded another loss. Their best hope in gaining tremendous yards in the ground will be at San Francisco and Denver who are both giving up over 100 yards of rushing and also allowing the most points of the 5 opponents with 21pts per game for Denver and 29 points per game for San Fran.
The Raiders have GOT to do a better job in getting the ball to their young wide receivers. They had a prime opportunity to gash the Texans secondary and come away with much needed win as the Texans are allowing 25 points per game and a staggering 338 yards through the air (currently ranked dead last). They could not do it. Only connecting for an average of 214 yards of passing per game going up against the Chargers who's secondary is only giving up 155 yards per game, does not bode well for the 1 - 3 Raiders. And they had better do a better of pass blocking because or the Raiders may face the same issues as the Bears did when they were sacked by the Giants, 9 times in the first half. The Chargers have found good success at getting to the quarterback 15 times so far this season. Maybe the Raiders can find the most success against San Francisco, Denver, Seattle and Kansas City, where all are allowing more than 220 yards / per game. Watch out for Seattle though. With 11 total sacks this year, they are no slouch at rushing the passer.
Opponents Offense vs Raiders Defense
If Raiders coaches and players can't find a way to stop the Chargers from putting points on the board (even without Vincent Jackson of all people), they may as well get not even bother to play both games against San Diego. The Chargers excel through the air but the Raiders pass defense has been stout so far only letting opponents average 144 yards per game (currently ranked #4). So we will see how that match up plays out. I have a feeling though that Darren Sproles is going to have a field day, juking, spinning and running all through our porous run defense which will let Phillip Rivers put up some big plays through the air.
I believe that with the unbalanced offense that Denver has, and the inconsistent and sometimes non existent passing games of the Sea Hawks, 49'ers and Chiefs, our secondary has a real chance to make a name for itself.
With the exception of the Chiefs and Chargers every other opponent before the bye week is averaging (at least now) less than 100 yards rushing per game so I like our match ups against the Sea Hawks and Denver but I won't be surprised if Frank Gore rips us for some good yardage when we face the 49'ers.
Tyvon Branch was quoted as saying that the NFL is about making runs. Well hopefully the Raiders can fix or at least bolster their run defense and do something on offense to get Heyward-Bey, Murphy and Higgins more catches to go a winning run instead a losing one. I like the match ups over the next five games. Any game in the NFL can be won by any team at any time. But according to how the Raiders have missed opportunities to win games that they should have won so far, I will go on record as saying that they will have a 4 - 1 record over the next 5 games only losing to the Chargers, which would put them at 5 - 4 going into the bye week.
As long as they can get more players involved other than their Running Backs and Tight End, they can go on a 4 game winning streak after San Diego. I just don't see any way in hell that they will beat the Chargers on Sunday. Aint happening!
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