The Raiders offense is poised for a big showing this Sunday. I’m a firm believer in numbers and sample sizes. It’s not exactly a secret that the Raiders defense is nothing to write home about, but the Lions actually have a worse defense. This season the Detroit Lions defense:
Ranks No. 31 in overall defense;
Has the No. 26 against the run; and
Sits all the way at No. 32 when defending the pass.
Diving deeper into the numbers, the Lions are giving up a dismal 130 rushing yards per game. However, only two running backs have rushed for 100 yards or more (Jamal Williams in Week 6 with 104 and Dalvin Cook in Week 7 with 142) against them. Josh Jacobs is going to have another breakout performance, or it’s going to be a joint party. It should be noted that the Lions only gave up 80 rushing yards last week against the Giants, but the they had ample time to prepare coming off a bye.
Another x-factor that’s somewhat unexpected is the injury to the Raiders’ back-up center Andre James, who stepped up big against the Texans. His injury might put Richie Incognito at the center position for the first time since 2010, or force the newly signed Erik Magnuson to fill in. I still like a healthy Jacobs to do some serious damage come Sunday.
Moving on to the pass defense, this should be a career game for Derek Carr, and I mean that. Carr has thrown for four touchdowns in a game six times, which is his career high. The last time he threw four touchdowns was last year against Baker Mayfield and the Browns in that thrilling overtime win in Week 4. The Lions have given up four touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in their last two games against the Vikings and Giants.
Still, Carr has yet to throw for over 300 yards this season either, something that rookie quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Daniel Jones both accomplished against this Lions defense. This is one of those games where if Carr doesn’t perform, the calls for a replacement will expectedly grow.
In order for Carr to have an explosive performance, it’s fair to also examine how the Lions defense has held up against tight ends and wide receivers. Opposing tight ends are averaging 64 yards per game when facing them, which should be good news for Darren Waller, who is averaging 71 yards per game. Hopefully, Waller also feels some type of way about that two catch, 11-yard performance against a bruised and battered Houston secondary.
Opposing wide receiver are averaging 178 yards, but like their performance against the run, the Lions haven’t given up big numbers to individuals, as only two receivers have gone over 100 yards against the them. (Larry Fitzgerald in Week 1 with 188 and Stefon Diggs in Week 7 with 142). I would bet on Tyrell Williams extending his touchdown streak to six games, but he may not have an explosive yardage total.
This is a winnable game for the Raiders, despite their shortcomings on defense. The offense should be able to show up Sunday and do work in front of a home crowd that has been sorely missed over the past six weeks.