Will the Raiders’ loss of Jason Campbell significantly alter the Chiefs’ odds of victory this week? How likely are we to stop Oakland’s ground game? Do the Raiders have any glaring weaknesses and if so, how can the Chiefs exploit them. We’ll turn to Football Outsiders stats for possible answers to those questions and more, right after the jump.
Let’s begin with the QB question. The popular assumption seems to be that Jason Campbell is, at best, an average quarterback and that the primary reason for Oakland’s early success on offense this season is due their running game. Well, according to DVOA analysis as of Week 6, that’s probably only half-true. The whole truth is that Campbell had actually been playing very effectively and efficiently up until his injury. His play earned him the 6th ranking in DVOA and 9th in DYAR. Nothing wrong there.
Considering the central importance of the QB position, then yes, the loss of Campbell, on paper anyway, seems to be a major blow at that position for the Raiders, Carson Palmer’s imminent presence notwithstanding.
Next, we turn to the Raiders’ rushing attack. Darren McFadden currently ranks 7th in DVOA and 6th in DYAR. To complicate matters further, as a receiving RB, he ranks 10th in DVOA and 11th in DYAR. He’ll be a hand full, make no mistake.
Darrius Heyward-Bey, the Raiders’ best receiver, ranks 44th in both DVOA and DYAR. Denarius Moore checks in at 46th in DVOA and 50th in DYAR. Coverage of these two ought to be a manageable scenario for the Chiefs. That being said, Moore however ranks 1st in DVOA and 2nd DYAR when used for running plays and similarly Jacoby Ford ranks 6th in both DVOA and DYAR when used in that manner. This could be a problem area for the Chiefs.
The Raiders rank 7th in pass offense while the Chiefs rank 31st in pass defense. Similarly, the Raiders offensive line ranks 3rd in pass protection while the Chiefs defensive line ranks 31st against pass protection. The Raiders are 6th best in rushing offense while the Chiefs rank 17th against the run. The Raiders OL ranks 14th in run blocking and the Chiefs DL show up with a 21st ranking defending the run.
What the Raiders appear to lack is an effective tight end component to their passing game, perhaps that will free up our LBs just enough to focus a little more on McFadden catching the ball along with those dangerous WR screens the Raiders seem to love so much?
Statistically speaking, it appears that the Raiders will be able to do whatever they want when they have the ball and even if Palmer is a little rusty, the Raiders line will probably give him enough time to sharpen his passes on high percentage throws when they aren’t pounding the ball down the Chiefs’ throat. To be brutally honest, there are some very good reasons why the Raiders rank 5th overall on offense.
So what about when the Chiefs have the ball?
As of week 6, Cassel ranked 30th in both DVOA and DYAR. Granted, we saw progress with him against Indy; this Sunday, he’ll need to show that he can sustain that.
Thomas Jones ranks 32nd in DVOA and 31st DYAR. Jackie Battle has a pretty high DVOA percentage but still lacks enough carries to merit ranking. The Chiefs rushing offense ranks 23rd and their offensive line ranks 23rd at run blocking. The Raiders defense ranks 15th against the rush and their defensive line ranks 9th defending against the run. An interesting area of focus could be the Left B Gap, where the Chiefs are the best in the league at running the ball through that gap, and the Raiders are the best in the league at defending against the run through that gap. Yeah.
In the passing game, things seem to get a little better, not great, but a little better for the Chiefs. On the surface one might say it’s still all uphill for the boys in red because the Chiefs are 28th in passing offense while the Raiders are 20th against the pass and Kansas City OL ranks 23rd in pass protection while Oakland’s DL ranks 14th against pass protection.
Not so fast.
Dwayne Bowe ranks 21st in DVOA and 9th in DYAR. Steve Breaston is coming on strong with #3 DVOA ranking and 25th in DYAR. Against #1 WRs, the Raiders rank 5th but against #2 WRs the Raiders rank 24th. It gets better. Defending against RBs as receivers, the Raiders are dead last. Long story short, Breaston and McCluster could, and will mostly need to, feature prominently this Sunday for the Chiefs to pull off an upset.
Lastly there’s special teams. Without going into a lot of detail, the Raiders currently garner a 6th ranking in that area while the Chiefs are showing some improvement with a 16th ranking.
I’ll close by quickly dispensing with the obvious. Yes, the Chiefs defense must protect the ball, shut down McFadden, get to Palmer. They must also win the field position battle on special team. Beyond those cliches, it all comes down to Cassel getting his passes out quickly and accurately to guys like Breaston, McCluster, Colbert, McClain, etc. By contrast, I would not expect us accomplish a whole lot this Sunday if we come out of the gate attempting some conservative ground attack.
That’s Double Take #2 for the week.
What’s your take, Addicts?