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Oakland Raiders vs Seattle Seahawks: Featuring Strength Against Strength

Greg PetersonCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2010

Seattle will get a heavy dose of this man, Darren McFadden on Sunday.
Seattle will get a heavy dose of this man, Darren McFadden on Sunday.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

This Sunday’s upcoming tilt between the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks features the Raiders third ranked rushing game colliding against the Seahawks second ranked rushing defense. 

As the Raiders and Seahawks are both pretty much average in their respective passing games on both sides of the ball and are closely matched on special teams, this game is likely to be decided in the head to head battle on the ground and in the trenches. 

We all saw that Oakland Raider running back Darren McFadden, in the midst of a breakout season, is responding well to his earlier hamstring injury with a career day against the Denver Broncos.

So how good is this Seattle rush defense really? 

We're going to find out. 

The Seahawks haven’t faced a rushing attack like Oakland’s yet this year.  The highest ranking rushing offense they have played so far is the St. Louis Rams (#13).  McFadden and Michael Bush promise to test Seattle’s run defense this Sunday in whole new ways for this season.

Part of Seattle’s success in the rushing game this year has been in defending big rushing plays of 20 yards or more; they have given up 2 and none more than 40 yards.  For defending big run plays the Seahawks are among the league leaders.

The Raiders runners however have broken 7 big runs for over 20 yards and 3 more over 40 yards.  The Raiders are also among the league leaders in big running plays.

It’s that most compelling match up:  the unstoppable force against the immovable object.  This game is setup to see which one is going to give.

Raiders come in run-heavy

It’s not like the Raiders are likely to shy away from the run.  The Raiders have run 236 rushes to 213 passing plays at this point in the season.  The Seahawks haven’t faced that kind of rushing work load yet; they have only had 140 running snaps to defend so far in six games.

In fact, for whatever reason, Seattle’s opponents have been calling about 2 passing plays to every running play against the Seahawks.  Obviously the main reason would be because Seattle has been very good against the run and especially big running plays.  But another reason would be in 3 out of 4 Seattle wins they have gone into the 4th quarter with a comfortable lead, limiting opponents to pass to catch up.

Seattle may very well be counting on their special teams and defense to make enough plays to help them get ahead of the Raiders and force Oakland away from its run game.

But will that be enough?  Seattle’s defensive tackle Brandon Mebane has not practiced all week and is listed questionable to play with a calf injury.  Seattle seems to be missing Mebane’s presence because he’s also missed the last two games.  Without Mebane in Chicago, the Bears averaged 4.3 yards per carry and the Cardinals averaged over 5.6 yards per carry last week. 

The Seahawks rush resistance is weakening, and against two of the weaker rushing teams in the league.

The Raiders rushing average is 4.7 yards per carry, including two and a half games without an injured Darren McFadden.  McFadden’s rush average is 5.5 yards.  In the 5 games McFadden has played, the Raiders have averaged over 177 yards rushing per game.

This chart shows Seattle’s effectiveness versus the run and the ratio of pass to run plays they have faced this year.

Team                           Rush att/yds    Rush avg                     Pass att                 Game situation

San Fran.  – W

19   /   49

2.5

45

28-6 lead 3rd qtr

Denver      – L

38   /   65

1.7

35

0-17 halftime

San Diego  - W

21   /   89

4.2

53

10-0 halftime

St. Louis     - L

28   /   88

3.1

41

3-17 end 3rd qtr

Chicago    - W

14   /   61

4.3

39

Chi FGs 24, 34 yards

Arizona      - W

20   /   113

5.65

33

19-7 end 3rd qtr

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