Oakland Raiders: Are They the Hottest Team in the NFL?

big ROC Stockton, CAAnalyst IIINovember 11, 2010

Oakland Raiders: Are They the Hottest Team in the NFL?

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    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 31:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs aroung Marcus Trufant #23 of the Seattle Seahawks at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 31, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The Oakland Raiders are currently 5-4 and in second place in the AFC West.  Things didn't start good for the Raiders as they were off to their usual 1-3 start through four games.  Most people that don't know about the Raiders thought that this was the same old Raiders and that they were on their way to another double digit loss season.  The losses piled up quick but us Raider fans could see that this team was far better than what we've had in a long time.

    Through the last five weeks the Oakland Raiders are 4-1.  That's the second best record in the NFL over the last five weeks behind the Giants.  That ties them with the Falcons, Ravens, Patriots, and Jets over that span.  The Raiders are playing solid ball in every phase of the game.  The offense, defense, and special teams are getting it done when they need to.

    The Raiders are a missed 32 yard FG away from being 6-3 and in control of their division but at 5-4 they can't complain as they control their own destiny and have a 3-0 record so far in the AFC West.

    The Raiders have been dominant during their three game win streak over the Broncos, the then 4-2 Seahawks, and the first place Chiefs who were 5-2 heading into their matchup.  Against the Broncos the Raiders came out firing and didn't look back.  They put up 38 points before the Broncos found the endzone.  The Raiders scored a franchise record 59 points despite pulling McFadden after just 2 1/2 quarters and Jason Campbell after three quarters.  They easily could have scored another 2-3 touchdowns if they left the starters in.

    They followed that up with a 33-3 blowout over the NFC West leading Seattle Seahawks.  In that win they didn't get off to a fast start but finished strong with a 20 point fourth quarter.  They dominated the Chiefs but the referees kept it close.  Kansas City scored a TD off of a terrible pass interference call that set them up in the redzone.  Their other TD was set up by a bad fumble call on Nick Miller's punt return.  The Raiders came out of the pile with the ball but the refs awarded possession to KC about five minutes after the whistle.  Without those two penalties the game would have been more like 20-6 instead of 23-20 in OT.

    Bottom line is the Raiders are getting things done in all phases of the game.  Lets take a look at the new and improved Oakland Raiders.

The High Powered Offense

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Jason Campbell #8 hands the ball off to Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders against the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 7, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Raiders offense is rolling right now and looks as good as it has been in about ten years.  They had back to back games with 500 yards of offense against the Broncos and Seahawks.  They scored 92 points over that span. 

    Jason Campbell is finally showing why Al Davis declared him the next savior of the franchise with solid and clutch performances in the last three games.  He has five touchdowns and just one INT during the three game win streak. 

    Darren McFadden is producing like a Pro Bowler.  He currently leads the NFL in yards after contact.  He also leads the NFL in yards per game with 108.1 and his 5.4 ypc is third in the league.  His 757 rushing yards is fourth best in the NFL despite sitting out 2 1/2 games with a hamstring injury.  McFadden has three runs over 40 yards which ties him for the most with Chris Johnson.  He has eight runs of 20 yards which is second in the NFL.

    Zach Miller is off to another solid start.  His 461 receiving yards is good for third best in the NFL behind Antonio Gates and Jason Witten.  Pretty good company despite missing the last game and sitting out about 75% of the game before that. 

    The WRs are also finally producing.  Last Sunday Jacoby Ford stepped up big with 148 receiving yards and two key catches that set up the game tying FG and a 47 yard catch that set up the game winning FG in OT.

    The week before Darius Heyward Bey finally had a big game.  He had a 69 yard touchdown reception on his way to a career day.  Louis Murphy had back to back games with 91 yards and 119 yards but has since been slowed by a clavicle injury and a bruised lung.

    The offensive line started the season struggling but has since come together.  Jared Veldheer and Robert Gallery are looking like one of the strongest left sides in the league right now.  The entire unit is blowing defensive fronts off the ball in the running game.  The Raiders are currently second in the NFL in rushing have the sixth best scoring offense.

Defense! Defense!

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    OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 31:  Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks is tackled by Richard Seymour #92 of the Oakland Raiders at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 31, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The defense is finally coming together as a unit.  They started off playing solid football but would give up a big play after shutting offenses down for a long stretch.  Over the last three weeks the Raiders are giving up just 75 rushing yards per game.  The front seven bottled up Kansas City Chiefs #1 ranked running game on Sunday.  Jamaal Charles finished with 52 yards and Thomas Jones managed just 32 yards on 19 carries.

    Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are playing as well as any DT tandem in the NFL.  DE's Trevor Scott, Lamaar Houston, and Matt Shaughnessy are getting it done.  Kamerion Wimbley has also made an impact from the DE position on passing downs. 

    The Raiders have 28 sacks which is one short of the highest total in the NFL.  The defense is seventh overall with the third best pass defense.  The run defense is ranked 26th but like I said they are giving up just 75 rushing yards per game over the last three games including shutting down KC's #1 ranked attack.  Jamaal Charles' longest run of the day was for 13 yards and Thomas Jones managed a seven yarder for his long on the day.

    The pass defense has been very good as usual.  Nnamdi continues to show why he is considered the best at his position.  Michael Huff is flying around causing fumbles and dropped passes.  Tyvonn Branch is doing his job at SS.  He's made some big hits this year.  Mike Mitchell has done an excellent job shutting down opposing TEs and supporting the front seven as a Nickel LB.

    The defense is getting after it right now and are becoming the dominant unit we all thought they could be.

Special Teams Has Been Special

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 07:  Sebastian Janikowski #11 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after kicking the game winning field goal in overtime against the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 7, 2010 in Oaklan
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Our special teams units have made some plays this year.  As usual we have the best punter in the NFL in Shane Lechler.  He continues to do his thing in the punt game pinning teams deep and getting us out of trouble with his big leg when we're backed up and forced to punt.

    Sebastian Janikowski let us down by missing a 32 yard FG in Arizona but has since made up for with a game tying FG and the game winner in a win over the first place Chiefs.  Seabass is also blasting his kickoffs deep into the endzone and is leading the NFL in touchbacks.  His kickoff in OT was also a great kick as it bounced, rolled, and by the time the returner got the ball he bare managed to get to the 10 yard line.

    The punt coverage unit came up big against the Chargers.  Without those two blocked punts leading to nine points we likely don't win that game.  That win over the Chargers propelled the Raiders into the 4-1 record they have over the last five games.  It is safe to say that without those blocks the Raiders' season would have a completely different feel right now.

    Jacoby Ford came up big in the return game against the Chiefs.  He has been close to breaking one for a TD on a lot of his returns so far.  He finally got loose for a 96 yard touchdown return to open the second half.  His TD return is what swung the momentum in our favor after being down 10-0 at halftime. 

    The special teams is making big plays for us right now.  I know we could be 6-3 if Seabass hits that FG against the Cardinals but we could easily be 3-6 without those blocked punts, Ford's return, and Janikowski's game winning FG last Sunday.

Playing Together As a Team

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Fans of the Oakland Raiders look on against of the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 7, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    The Raiders are getting it done in every phase of the game.  From the coaches and assistants to the players and the fans.  The offensive line is doing their job.  Darren McFadden has running lanes to burst through for big plays.  The passing game feeds off the dominant running game and has been making big plays down field on a regular basis.

    The defensive front is getting after the QB and clogging up lanes before RBs get through.  The LBs are smashing anybody that dares to cross their path.  McClain is throwing his body around.  Groves is solid and Wimbley is a flat out beast with 4.5 sacks.

    The DBs are doing their job.  Nnamdi is the man.  Branch and Huff are flying around making plays.  Mike Mitchell is shutting down TEs and RBs out of the backfield.  Chris Johnson's pick six was the lynch pin in the blowout over Denver.  Even rookie Jeremy Ware stepped up with a huge INT in the endzone at the end of the first half against KC.

    The Raiders are rolling and if they just keep playing their football they should be able to take the division and even do damage in the playoffs.  Yeah, that's right.  I said playoffs!



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