Sitting atop the 2020 NFL point differential rankings are three playoff teams: Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and New Orleans. Behind them, three more playoff-hopeful teams: Miami, Green Bay, and Baltimore. Nothing seems particularly off about this, so we continue scrolling. As we head down the rankings, we pass some questionable teams, the LA Rams at #8, Arizona at #10, and Atlanta at #15. Scrolling even further, we finally stumble across the Las Vegas Raiders at #21.
Not believing these numbers, we begin to look into the Raiders offense to find the Raiders have scored 30+ points in all but four games, and at least 20 points in all games but two. Seeing the offense firing, we turn to defense to see the Raiders have allowed 24+ points in every game this season, except a windswept game against Cleveland and one against a faltering Los Angeles Chargers offense.
Diving deeper into the stats, the Raiders find themselves 11th in the NFL for points scored (26 per game) yet fall to 28th for points allowed (29 per game). Eleventh in the NFL in any category is impressive and deserves praise, but anything below 20th can be looked at as the reason for the team’s struggles.
Since Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock joined the team, the Raiders have boasted about draft picks that look great on paper, but despite specifically stockpiling their defense through their picks, the defense trends downward.It could be entirely possible that the Raiders are one single piece away from deserving a playoff spot, and that piece being a competent defensive coordinator. Throughout the game against the Jets, one team looked like a team trying to secure the first pick in the draft, and it was not the Jets.
Should the Raiders allow Derrick Henry or Nick Chubb to dice them for 170+ plus yards, one would almost accept that, but Paul Guenther’s defense just allowed Ty Johnson and Josh Adams to do exactly that.
One Play Changes Mood
If Derek Carr and Henry Ruggs do not connect on their game-winning touchdown, the morale around Raiders camp would be vastly (and surprisingly different). This game was the one game “a win is a win” does not exactly apply. While the Raiders did win, their last eight quarters have done nothing but expose them as a high-powered offense carrying a horrid defense (think of a Porsche pulling a cement mixer); the only place this team is going is to the repair shop. While numbers may not always tell the complete truth, the Las Vegas Raiders need a few more wins.