Back in 2006 I began charting the most successful teams based on a few categories, passes defensed, forced fumbles, average per rushing and passing attempt and interceptions. It became clear that every year, the best teams in the NFL, for the most part, ranked very high in an aggregated score. This year is no exception as the teams that we all expect to be in or near the Super Bowl rank near the top of these aggregators. The Patriots are an exception this year, but they do make up on it on the offensive side of the ball.
This morning in an attempt to evaluate the performance of the three teams still in the fight for the AFC West Crown, I came to a very startling realization, the defense is NOT the problem. It is the offensive penalties.
The Raiders lead the AFC West with a score of 82. That is an average score of 16.3, or middle of the pack in the NFL.
The Chargers are next with a score of 98, that is nearly an average of 20, or knocking on the doorsteps to the bottom 30%.
The Division Leaders, Denver have the worst numbers with a score of 109 which places them in the bottom third of the NFL.
Taking it a step further, the Raiders have a passing aggregate of 25. With three categories that is an 8, which places them firmly in the top 30%. Their running aggregate is 57 or an average of 28.5, near the bottom of the League.
Now we get to the real reason that the Raiders are NOT in first place in their Division. Penalties.
Oddly enough the Raiders are only 6th in the NFL in Defensive penalties with 101 for 826 yards. Combined with the defensive numbers, maybe Bresnehan isn't the TRUE problem here. That is 86 more than the Broncos and 138 more than the Chargers. Not really a deal breaker, on paper. Man coverage teams get away with more penalties, which allows them to rank higher in passing stats, but, they are also more likely to get penalties called because of the scheme, so I expected the Raiders to be higher in defensive penalties.
The REAL problem is offensive penalties. The Oakland Raiders have committed 140 offensive penalties for 1,202 yards! To put that into perspective, the Broncos have a total of 1,475 yards in penalties and the Chargers have only committed 1,363 yards in penalties.
So, say what you want about the stats, injuries or bad calls. How the Raiders win games when the commit more than 10 penalties, may be indicative of how they play looser with the lead than anything else. It looks to me like the problem with the Raiders lies on the offensive side of the ball and if they can clean that up, they can win out.