Do the Raiders have the worst defense in the NFL?

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

At some point it rather feels like splitting hairs as to whether the Raiders have the worst defense in the NFL. But just to be sure, let's take a look at the numbers.

The past two games the Raiders have given up nearly triple digits in points. They were just a field goal away and since Lamarr Houston blocked a field goal against the Buccaneers, it some regard, they may as well have gone for the century mark.

As it stands, the 97 points was second most in a two game stretch. The franchise record is 99 points which was set in the first two games of the 1961 season. That field goal would have set a new record.

But how does the past couple weeks affect the overall rank of the Raiders defense?

Early in the season, it looked like giving up 30+ points was going to be the norm. They had given up over 30 points in three of their first four games. That put their season average at 31.3 points per game. Then they had three games in which they played pretty decent and brought it down to 26.7 points per game.

But now the Raiders are one of just three teams giving up over 30 points per game. Their averaged of 31.6 points per game is just one tenth of a point above the Bills (31.7) for most in the NFL.

The interesting thing is, despite giving up all those points, their defense by overall yards is ranked a surprising 23rd, giving up about 375 yards per game. The odd thing is the two teams who just scored so many points on the Raiders-the Buccaneers and Ravens-give up more yards per game than the Raiders. And their next opponent-the Saints-- gives up more than any other team in football (469.3).

In this regard, the stats can be pretty misleading. They are subject to who the teams play. The Raiders saw their average go down by facing a lot of teams without their starting running back which helped mask the run defense deficiencies through much of the season. Right up to the point where Doug Martin ran for 251 yards on them. They also played two of the worst offenses in the NFL in the Jaguars and Chiefs. You can throw the Chargers in that mix too with the way Philip Rivers is turning the ball over.

Speaking of turning the ball over, that too can affect the yards per game numbers. Turnovers result in short fields and sometimes a defensive touchdown. A short field means less yards overall than a long sustained drive but the points scored is still the same.

One could argue that the stat that means the most is points given up and in that regard, yeah, the Raiders may just have the worst defense in the NFL. I would argue that yards do come into play some because some of those scores are caused by the offense turning the ball over, and return touchdowns as we saw last week.

This whole point may be moot pretty soon, however, because the Saints are coming to town. They have the fourth ranked offense in the NFL and are fresh off taking the Falcons out as the NFL's last remaining unbeaten. With that, they have won four of their last five games after starting out 0-4. So, clearly, their biggest problems are behind them.

The Raiders are showing no signs of putting their problems behind them. While the offense is showing some signs of life, it is very much the defense that has lost its teeth. There is no reason to suspect they won't be gumming the Saints offense as well. If they aren't the worst defense in the NFL yet, they very likely will be come Monday.

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