Oakland Raiders: How Do They Compare To the Other AFC Playoff Teams?
If the season ended today, the Oakland Raiders would be in the play-offs.
Three wins—and two losses by the Kansas City Chiefs—means the Raiders lead the AFC West by virtue of a better record both against the Chiefs (1-0 against 0-1) and in the division (3-0 against 1-2).
Do the Raiders deserve to be there? Will they be one-and-done in the playoffs?
In order to answer these questions, we need to look at the other five teams who would join the Raiders if the season ended after nine games: New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers (who the Raiders play this Sunday).
I have tabulated some key stats to show how the Raiders match-up against these other AFC title contenders.
For interest, I have also added in a line showing how Oakland would rank if you just look at the last three games.
Here are the figures.
(Offense) Rushing Yards per Game
1. Oakland (last 3 games) 226.3
2. Oakland (season) 162.2
3. NY Jets 150.7
4. Baltimore 118.4
5. Pittsburgh 113.1
6. New England 106.7
7. Indianapolis 90.4
Oakland has been excellent all season.
McFadden and Bush are as hot as any backfield duo in the league
(Offense) Rushing Yards per Carry
1. Oakland (last 3 games) 5.8
2. Oakland (season) 4.9
3. NY Jets 4.6
4. New England 4.1
5. Pittsburgh 4.0
6. Baltimore 3.8
7. Indianapolis 3.7
The Raiders' O-line has opened up gaps all year, but in the last three games they have been completely dominant.
(Offense) Passing Yards per Game
1. Indianapolis 288.9
2. New England 232.0
3. Oakland (last 3 games) 231.7
4. Baltimore 226.4
5. NY Jets 211.3
6. Pittsburgh 200.4
7. Oakland (season) 198.8
Oakland does not yet have a premier passing game, but it has been mighty effective in the last three games.
1. Oakland (last 3 games) 104.3
2. New England 98.8
3. Pittsburgh 97.1
4. Indianapolis 93.9
5. Baltimore 90.1
6. Oakland (season) 81.3
7. NY Jets 80.5
No, this is not a lie!
If Jason Campbell can play like he has for the past three weeks, then he can stand confidently beside Brady and Manning.
Looking at the season as a whole, "could do better" springs to mind.
(Defense) Rush Yards per Game
1. Pittsburgh 63.2
2. Oakland (last 3 games) 70.0
3. NY Jets 89.6
4. Baltimore 99.8
5. New England 113.0
6. Oakland (season) 124.8
7. Indianapolis 133.2
The Steelers have been dominant against the run all season long.
Looking at the season, Oakland are struggling by comparison, but in the last three games they have been "lights out."
(Defense) Rush Yards Per Carry
1. Pittsburgh 2.8
2. Oakland (last 3 games) 3.2
3. NY Jets 3.4
4. Baltimore 4.0
5. New England 4.2
6. Oakland (season) 4.5
7. Indianapolis 5.0
Pittsburgh's 2.8 average is ridiculous.
Can Oakland make any inroads this weekend?
(Defense) Pass Yards per Game
1. Oakland (last 3 games) 160.7
2. Oakland (season) 184.8
3. Indianapolis 211.0
4. Baltimore 216.7
5. NY Jets 217.1
6. Pittsburgh 252.2
7. New England 277.8
Oakland has had problems against elite rushers, so QBs haven't always had to test Nnamdi Asomugha and co.
When everything is working and the Raiders have stayed aggressively in man coverage, then opposing QBs have had nowhere to go other than down.
Turnover Ration per Game
1. Oakland (last 3 games) 1.0
2. Pittsburgh 0.9
3. Indianapolis 0.7
4. NY Jets 0.7
5. New England 0.7
6. Oakland (season) 0.1
7. Baltimore -0.1
Oakland have managed to generate fumbles, but could still improve their picks.
They also need to stop giving the ball away on their own fumbles, regardless of what the officials see.
If Oakland can play as they have done in the past three games, there is no doubt: THIS IS A PLAY-OFF TEAM.
They have been dominant on both sides of the ball and the stats back it up—the Raiders are more than relevant—they are a real live contender.
The stats across the season do act as a counter-balance: Improvement is necessary in stopping the run consistently, having reliable quarterback play in every game and taking more balls away from opposing receivers.
The match-up against Pittsburgh will be a barometer of how far Oakland has come.
The Steelers are the meanest run defense in the league.
Oakland is the number two rushing team in the NFL and will not be daunted by the Steelers reputation.
If Oakland can move the ball on the ground this Sunday, then they are the real deal.
It's going to be fun.