The Las Vegas Raiders made it back into the playoff race last Sunday with a massive win against the Denver Broncos. The 17-13 game puts the Raiders in control of their destiny with the playoffs in their sights.
Let's deep dive into the numbers from the Raiders matchup:
Raiders dominate in 12 personnel.
The Raiders used heavy sets regularly under Jon Gruden. The former Raiders coach had an affinity for tight ends and would equip them on the field in different personnel packages. That changed with Greg Olson, as 11 personnel became the offense's base. On Sunday, there was a shift in game planning.
The Raiders ran 12 (two tight ends, one running back) personnel on 23 percent of their snaps. They had a success rate of 100 percent on every run play adding up to 60 yards and 7.5 YPC. In the second half alone, the rushing attack had 49 yards on six carries in 12, averaging 8.17 YPC on the day. Josh Jacobs was able to let loose as he handled all the carries out of this grouping.
2021 Josh Jacobs went in the locker room and 2019 Jacobs came back onto the field. Line deserves some credit too. pic.twitter.com/Q4kGp0cafk— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) December 28, 2021
The Passing game did just as well, having a 63 percent success rate out of 12 personnel. Four of Derek Carr's six completions went for first downs. The addition of Matt Bushman and Daniel Helm helps the depth of the tight end position, allowing them to be flexible.
Quinton Jefferson has his best game of the season.
The interior of the defensive line has been stout throughout the season but not impactful. Solomon Thomas has provided hustle plays and a great depth piece. Quinton Jefferson had been quiet as of late but woke up vs. the Broncos with a massive day rushing the passer.
According to PFF, Jefferson led the team in pressure with seven. He totaled six hurries and sack on the day, cleaning up well inside. Jefferson has always created pressure during his career, and it was good to see Maxx Crosby get help from the interior.
Quinton Jefferson and the D-line brought the heat on Sunday pic.twitter.com/fuHtsWNjyR— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) December 27, 2021
The Indianapolis Colts offensive line is down, especially inside. If the Raiders can generate a pass rush from the defensive tackles such as Jefferson, it can be a long day for Carson Wentz. The defense needs these plays to make plays to finish this late-season run.
Carr attacks the intermediate part of the field.
Derek Carr, of course, has the reputation of conservative play that followed him since 2017. One area where aggressiveness is exhibited as a quarterback is the field's intermediate (10-19) range. Carr was 18th in attempt percentage going into Week 15, but there was a shift ever since.
Derek Carr completed all 8 of his intermediate passes (10-19 air yards) for 133 yards and a TD, tied for the most intermediate passes without an incompletion in a game this season.— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 27, 2021
Carr on Intermediate Passes (2021)
1,370 yards (2nd in NFL)#DENvsLV | #RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/Hov61k58Op
NFL's Next Gen stats displayed Carr was a perfect 8/8 for 133 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 158.33. PFF has Carr completing 16 of his last 19 intermediate attempts and is second in the league in attempt percentage. Attacking the middle of the field is also pushing the ball because accurate throws can lead to chunk plays.
The intermediate part of the field is an area where Carr has struggled. For example, his completion percentage in 2016 was 47 percent in that area. Flash forward to this season, you see a significant improvement, and with Waller back in the mix could create explosive plays.
Keisean Nixon is making noise at the slot position.
Keisean Nixon has primarily been a special teams player up until Week 15. He put on a consistent effort against Cleveland that had fans interested if it was just a fluke. Nixon put together another strong performance against the Broncos and fit right into Bradley's system.
Nixon only faced two targets on the day, but the one reception only went for 4 yards. According to PFF, he added three tackles, with two of the defensive stops, which means a failed play for the offense. His biggest one was the third-down stop, where he hustled to tackle Drew Lock, who was looking to scramble for first down.
The former South Carolina cornerback exhibits a key depth piece moving forward, especially with this special team skills. With fans wondering what Hobbs could do outside with players hitting the COVID list, the depth that Nixon adds is paramount to this team for the future.