Oakland Raiders: What a Difference a Point Makes (Points Differential Study)

Honor Warren Wells TheTorch@dbintayaelSenior Writer IIJanuary 9, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 22:  Former Head Coach John Madden of the Oakland Raiders looks on alongside his Hall of Fame Bust during a ceremony to honor his recent induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame before the game against the Arizona Cardinals on October 22, 2006 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

There are so many opinions and so many ways to aggregate the data to describe the history of the Oakland Raiders.

This article focuses on the point-differential per season. It measures the amount of points the Raiders allowed their opponents to gather during each season.

Several observations can be made:

1. In 1969, the Oakland Raiders outscored their opponents by 235 points.

2. In 1968, there was another all-time high of plus 220 points. In other words, in those days the Raiders scored much more than their opponents.

3. John Madden had a 10 year record as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, and for each of those years, the cumulative score was positive, indicating the Oakland Raiders outscored the opponent for 10 consecutive years during that historical era.


The accomplishments of John Madden were not done by one man, but by many men who played well as a team. Madden was at the helm of his successful coaching journey, and the others have shared his glorious career with the Oakland Raiders. A list of the players who helped Madden lead the Oakland Raiders through some golden years is shown in the above chart .

Recently the Raiders hit an all time low, allowing their opponents to outscore them by 182 points, which is recorded as -182. The only other time the points-differential score was so low was in 1961, when the number was -221.

This is the first time in the history of the Oakland Raiders that there is a long list of negative cumulative scores, indicating that the opponents are getting in the endzone much more often than the Raiders.

Here is the list of the negative years:

Year       PtDiff       Coach

2009       -182        Cable

2008       -125        Cable/Kiffin

2007       -115        Kiffin

2006       -164        Shell

2005       -93          Turner

2004       -122        Turner

2003       -109        Callahan

2002       +146       Callahan

2001         +72       Gruden

2000         +180     Gruden

1999          +61      Gruden

The distance between Cable's cumulative score in points-differential compared to John Madden's maximum of 135 is 135-(-182), yielding a score of 317.

What could that number mean? It means that Cable and the current Oakland Raiders have a long way to go to match or exceed the performance level of the Oakland Raiders under the illustrious leadership of John Madden.

Cable's score can be compared to the score that the Raiders had when they were only two-years old. And, what could that mean?

Since the theme of this article is, "what a difference a point makes," we look back and see that Art Shell had a year with just a one point difference to dominate his opponents in 1991, followed by -32, -20, -24, from 1991-1994.

Coach White had two years, with a cumulative score of 16 in 1995, and 47 in 1996.

Coach Bugel led the team for only one year and he had a cumulative score of -95, not a very good year.

Then Gruden steps up in 1998 and increases the score, but it still was a negative score of -68. Disappointing, but at least an improvement.

Furthermore, Gruden had differentials of +61, +180, and +72 the next three seasons. Gruden then left, and then Callahan had a differential of +146 in 2002, before dropping drastically to -109 in 2003.

Guess what? Gruden was long gone and Turner took over. Turner had differentials of  -109, -122, and -93 , and then Shell returned in 2006 with a -164. Shell's return did not make a difference between 2005 and 2006. In fact, there was a decline in the scoring.

Finally, to bring us up to the present, Kiffin had a cumulative points-differentials score of -115 in 2007, and he shared responsibility of the coaching with Cable in 2008. You could say that Kiffin pulled the score up a bit from -164 to -115, but it still was negative.

In 2008 the score was -125 for the Kiffin and Cable. But, the score did not go up, it went down. Now in 2009, under the sole leadership of Cable, the cumulative points-difference score has gone down again, this time by 57 points.

It could mean that the Oakland Raiders are starting all over again. It could mean that they are now going around in circles, or that they are getting ready to launch a new cycle upward to restore respect and greatness to the franchise.

What do you think?



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