Want a direct link to why the Oakland Raiders have won five games and lost five games? Look no further than the amount of rushing yards given up by the defense. In the Oakland Raiders five losses this season they have given up a grand total of 893 yards on the ground and in their five wins just a meager 392 yards rushing.
It makes perfect sense considering that teams with a ground game tend to be able to open up their passing game and have a well balanced offensive attack, while teams who can’t run that well tend to have to rely on their passing game to win games. And since the Raiders’ passing defense is ranked fourth best in the league, if you can’t run the ball then you won’t win against Oakland. Passing the ball tends to not be a very good way to beat the Raiders, just ask the San Diego Chargers who put up well over 400 yards through the air on the Raiders earlier this year in a losing effort.
And this is not a problem that solely belongs to this year. The Raiders of the past seven years have all had trouble when opponents run the ball against them. The thing that is different this year is that it is so obviously a night and day effect in terms of wins vs. losses. The only team this season who has put over 100-plus rushing yards up against the Raiders and lost is the Kansas City Chiefs mark of 104 yards. But the Chiefs are used to averaging a much higher mark per game and currently lead the NFL in rushing offense with over 164 yards per game. And if not for a stellar second half from Jacoby Ford in that game, the Raiders most likely would have lost.
Fortunately for the Raiders, the Miami Dolphins rushing game has not been the same beast this year as it was in the past. They have been very inconsistent on the ground all season long and they are only averaging 97 yards per game on the ground. Compare that to last season when they were fourth in the NFL with a 139.4 mark and you come to find that teams have discovered a way to shut down the Ronnie Brown/Ricky Williams attack. The Oakland Raiders success in tomorrow’s game will hinge directly on their ability to stop the Dolphins on the ground, especially with their quarterback situation being in such array.
It can be said that throughout the history of football as a sport teams who can run the ball and stop the run are more consistently winners than those that are not as good at these two things. The Raiders have the one side of the equation down pat but now they just need to get more consistency out of their run defenders. Just think, if they had held all of their opponents under 100 yards per game on the ground this year, they’d be undefeated.
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