Know Your Foe: The Oakland Raiders
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HOUSTON (CBS Houston) – Remember that “easy November stretch” we all discussed before the season began? Throw that narrative in the trash.
“Easy game” and “Texans” can no longer go in the same sentence. Unless we’re looking at things from the opposition’s stand point. At 2-7, a win over the Jaguars seems far from a lock (a team that is now JUST ONE game back of Houston in the AFC South), let alone a home victory against the Raiders Sunday.
Speaking of Oakland, what do the Silver and Black bring to the table? Let’s take a closer look. Read with this video on loop as background music for full effect:
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor is the only reason the Raiders are worth watching. At all. He’s big (6’4, 233lbs). He’s fast (4.38 40 time, leads team with 504 yards rushing). And he has a cannon for an arm. Accuracy (59% completion percentage) can be a problem at times, but Pryor has really made strides in his third season in the pros.
Pryor is at his best when extending plays. His arm strength and elusiveness create big play potential on every down. According to Pro Football Focus, Pryor leads the league (by far) in pass attempts where he’s had five seconds or more to throw. The NFL has some damn good defensive backs, but it’s close to impossible to cover a receiver over five seconds.
Pryor’s go to guys are Denarius Moore (558 yards receiving, 4 TDs) and Rod Streater (423 yards receiving, 1 TD). And because of his ability to extend plays, both rank in the top 35 in yards per catch. Moore is 14th – averaging 15.9 yards a catch, while Streater is 32nd – with an average of 14.6.
With all of that said, Pryor hasn’t been on his A game of late. He threw for just 88 yards and two picks against the Steelers…the same secondary that finally allowed Tom Brady to look superhuman again a couple of weeks back. He played OK against the Eagles two weeks ago (288 yds passing, 2 INT) but sprained the MCL in his right knee during the game. And last week against the Giants, he had his worst game of the season (11-26, 122 yds, 1 INT, 40.9 rating, 5 rushes, 19 yards, 1 TD). The knee clearly affected him, and while he practiced with Oakland Thursday, backup QB Matt McGloin has reportedly taken the majority of reps with the starting team this week.
If Pryor goes, he’ll have trouble buying himself time with his feet. His knee is one problem, but his offensive line is pretty rough. Check out these stats per Pro Football Focus:
LT – Khalif Barnes (-5.7 rating, 42nd among 76 tackles)
RG – Mike Brisiel (-2.0 pass block rating, 39th out of 71 guards)
LG – Lucas Nix (-35.1 rating, dead last among all guards)
Center Stefen Wisniewski (4.4 rating, 12th among 33 centers) plus right tackles Tony Pashos and Matt McCants (4.7 rating/32 out of 76, 5.6 rating/29 out of 76) haven’t been bad, but they haven’t been helped by the other three.
Oakland: Where Rashad Jennings > Darren McFadden
Remember Darren McFadden? Oakland’s game breaking running back? He ain’t the same guy anymore. Once again, he’s missed time due to injury (again) this year (week 5 against the Chargers, 10 against the Giants). When he has been healthy, he hasn’t done much. D-Mac is averaging just 3.6 yards a carry this year. Even worse? Pro Football Focus ranks him 53rd out of 55 running backs this season.
Backup Rashad Jennings has filled in admirably…and may have in fact supplanted McFadden. Head Coach Dennis Allen said this week that Jennings has earned more touches than McFadden, regardless of his health (he hasn’t practiced this week due to a hamstring injury). Understandable when you look at the numbers. The past two weeks, Jennings has been Oakland’s best offensive player (35 carries 190 yards 5.4 YPC, plus 9 catches for 93 yards). Sure it’s a two week sample. But it’s a damn good one. And with McFadden in a contract year, you can understand why the Raiders are giving Jennings a chance.
As For The Defense…
Oakland is solid on the defensive line. Right defensive end Lamarr Houston ranks sixth on PFF among all 4-3 defensive ends. He’s especially stout against the run…ranking 4th in that category. Defensive tackle Vance Walker, nose tackle Pat Sims, and backup tackle Daniel Muir complete Oakland’s front lines.
The linebacker corps are average at best. Weak side backer Kevin Burnett is the Raiders second best run defender. Strong side backer Sio Moore can stop the run AND defend the pass. As for middle linebacker Nick Roach, he’s AWFUL against the run. But he does rate pretty well in coverage.
Oakland’s secondary? Blegh. All four of their starters have negative ratings against the pass on PFF.con:
SS – Tyvon Branch: -.9
FS – Charles Woodson: -1.6
CB – Tracy Porter: – 3.7
CB – Mike Jenkins: -5.5
The backups? Worse
CB – Phillip Adams: -2.3
CB – D.J. Hayden: -7.7
It’s not hard to see why Peyton Manning, Phillip Rivers, and Nick Foles combined for 1191 passing yards and 12 TDs in three games.
Conventional wisdom says the Texans are better than the Raiders. Of course, conventional wisdom also said a team this talented can’t possibly lose 7 games in a row. Yet here we are.
Until I’m proven wrong, I have zero faith in the Texans to win a game. 27-24 seems to be the current trend. Raiders win by that score. Gross.
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