Raiders Want Move Rush to Beat Burrow, Bengals

NFL Wild Card – The Cincinnati Bengals loved a a lot much less worrying path to the playoffs than their wild-card opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bengals moved right into a tie for the division lead in Week 15, took sole possession of first place in Week 16, and clinched the AFC North championship in Week 17 earlier than resting a number of starters in a season finale that had little influence on their playoff lives. The Raiders, alternatively, entered Week 15 trying up at 10 groups above them within the AFC standings earlier than successful their ultimate 4 video games by a complete of 12 factors, not clinching a playoff spot till the ultimate play of the ultimate sport (in additional time at that) of the common season.

One group has been a playoff favourite since mid-October whereas the opposite barely snuck in on the ultimate gun, so we should always anticipate a snug Cincinnati win, proper? Not essentially—DVOA sees this as a a lot nearer sport than the oddsmakers in Las Vegas (town, not the soccer group). The Bengals are—forgive us—paper tigers to a level, with most of their wins coming towards lackluster competitors. Solely six of their 17 video games got here towards groups that made the playoffs. They went 4-2 in these video games, however that features a 3-0 report towards the Steelers and Raiders, two groups that completed outdoors the highest 20 in DVOA. You may argue that Cincinnati solely beat one good group all 12 months (Kansas Metropolis in Week 17), and that they’re lucky to be going through the Raiders as an alternative of the Chargers, who clobbered them 41-22 in Week 13 and would have made the playoffs with a win (or tie) final Sunday.

The Chargers, after all, didn’t win on Sunday. The Raiders did. And now that they are right here, they’ve an affordable probability to win once more.

For many who could also be unfamiliar with the Soccer Outsiders stats, they’re defined on the backside of the web page. Scroll down or click on this hyperlink. Recreation charting information seems courtesy Sports activities Data Options, until famous. All stats characterize common season solely, apart from weighted DVOA and anything particularly famous.

DVOA -5.2% (21) 0.0% (17)
WEI DVOA -2.4% (20) 1.8% (14)
Raiders on Offense
DVOA -3.4% (19) 2.9% (19)
WEI DVOA -4.3% (20) 4.6% (24)
PASS 12.3% (17) 11.6% (24)
RUSH -15.7% (25) -9.8% (13)
Bengals on Offense
DVOA 0.8% (17) 1.2% (18)
WEI DVOA -1.8% (16) 4.4% (12)
PASS 10.3% (21) 16.4% (15)
RUSH -12.8% (10) -10.8% (20)
Particular Groups
DVOA -1.0% (21) 1.7% (8)

All readers can click on right here for the open in-game dialogue thread. When you’ve got FO+, you possibly can click on right here to see all of the matchup of DVOA splits for this sport.


LV Week-to-Week Graph

The Raiders’ power is of their versatility. Whereas they are not notably dominant at anybody factor, they’ve achieved a baseline of competence in most every little thing. That exhibits in our particular person numbers, each DYAR and DVOA. Derek Carr completed eleventh in passing effectivity. Josh Jacobs ranked within the mid-30s amongst operating backs in each speeding and receiving worth. Darren Waller missed six video games as a consequence of damage and wasn’t very efficient when he did play, however that is OK as a result of Foster Moreau completed within the mid-20s amongst tight ends in each departments. The offensive line was OK. Their greatest participant was huge receiver Hunter Renfrow, who completed tenth in DYAR and seventeenth in DVOA at his place.

Las Vegas leaned closely on Jacobs (who completed ninth in touches) and threw a variety of brief passes to Renfrow and their tight ends, however nonetheless discovered practically 200 targets for deep threats Henry Ruggs (earlier than his DUI arrest and launch, clearly), DeSean Jackson (signed shortly after Ruggs’ launch), Zay Jones, and Bryan Edwards. All of it added as much as a unit that was hardly ever horrible, however usually boring and bland. The Raiders prefer to name themselves the Silver and Black, however Gray and Beige could have been a extra applicable shade scheme for this offense.

Then a humorous factor occurred on the way in which to the playoffs: this grew to become Zay Jones’ group. The fifth-year professional had solely seven catches in seven video games on the time of Ruggs’ tragic collision, then caught precisely one go in every of Las Vegas’ subsequent three outings as he grew into his new beginning position. He began to determine issues out on Thanksgiving, catching 5 balls towards Dallas, and completed with 33 receptions in six video games after that. Actually, he was clearly the main target of the passing sport throughout Las Vegas’ four-game successful streak with 36 targets, 14 greater than any of his teammates and eleventh amongst NFL wideouts in that timeframe. He turned these targets into 25 catches for 264 yards, plus a 46-yard DPI. Renfrow, in the meantime, caught 17 of twenty-two targets for 161 yards, although he added three touchdowns whereas Jones failed to attain.

So who can be extra productive this Saturday, Jones or Renfrow? The reply to that query could also be “whoever is being coated by Eli Apple,” as a result of Chidobe Awuzie had an impressive season in protection. He ranked tenth out of 81 qualifying corners in yards allowed per goal and fifth in protection success fee, one among 4 corners to make the highest 10 in each classes. Cincinnati’s subsequent two corners—Apple and nickelback Mike Hilton—have been extra weak to large performs, each rating within the 50s in yards allowed per goal. Carr might additionally look to isolate Jacobs towards linebacker Logan Wilson, whose success fee in protection was a miniscule 23.5%. That is appallingly unhealthy—each different linebacker (or security, for that matter) with a minimum of 30 targets was profitable in protection a minimum of one-third of the time.

None of which may be related, nevertheless, as a result of the Bengals do not play a variety of man-to-man protection; solely six defenses used zone protection extra usually. And that is unhealthy information for Carr, who was rather more efficient towards man protection (8.0 yards per throw, 11 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) than towards zone (6.7 yards per throw, 5 touchdowns, seven interceptions). The Raiders might assist Carr out through the use of play-action. The Cincinnati protection allowed 6.2 yards per play towards straight dropbacks, a top-10 fee, however have been thirtieth towards play-action, surrendering 8.7 yards per play. Solely the Ravens suffered an even bigger drop-off in efficiency when opponents faked a handoff. The Raiders used play-action on simply 18.9% of passing performs—solely Tampa Bay used it much less usually—but when they’re going to survive and advance, they might first must shift gears and adapt. They need to additionally let Carr go on first down, the place the Bengals rank lifeless final in DVOA. The Raiders, for his or her half, ranked nineteenth in first-down passing on offense.

When the Raiders do hand off, it is often to Jacobs (who had 84 of the group’s 121 carries throughout their successful streak) and most frequently between the tackles (63% of the time, a top-10 fee). The Bengals protection was ninth in adjusted line yards towards up-the-middle runs, however they need to nonetheless have their fingers full on Saturday. Jacobs ranked third within the NFL with 56 damaged tackles, whereas Cincinnati’s protection allowed extra damaged tackles than anybody besides Detroit. Germaine Pratt and Wilson have been each among the many high 20 linebackers in damaged tackles; Hilton, Vonn Bell, Jessie Bates have been among the many high 25 defensive backs. Jacobs is just not the one Raiders star who excels in making defenders miss, by the way in which—Renfrow was fourth in damaged tackles amongst huge receivers.


CIN Week-to-Week Graph

The Bengals’ passing assault is way easier to outline than the Raiders’. High receivers Ja’Marr Chase (sixth in each DVOA and DYAR) and Tee Higgins (fifth) deal with the deep routes whereas slot man Tyler Boyd runs the shallow crossers. Tight finish C.J. Uzomah is there to punish defenses for devoting an excessive amount of consideration to the wideouts—he was top-12 on the place in each DVOA and DYAR regardless of rating outdoors the highest 20 in targets. Cincinnati additionally calls a variety of operating again screens, with Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine combining for 69 catches and 510 yards, 516 of which got here after the catch. It was all very harmful, as Joe Burrow accomplished 70.4% of his passes for an 8.9-yard common, each the perfect charges within the league. As a group, the Bengals ranked ninth or higher in whole passing yardage, air yards, yards after the catch, and touchdowns, and solely the 49ers and Rams averaged extra yards per passing play. In DVOA, in the meantime, the Bengals passing offense ranked … fifteenth, just a little bit higher than the Ravens and Browns, just a little bit worse than the Vikings and Broncos.

We have now talked a few instances currently about why our numbers for Burrow and the passing assault are so underwhelming, however the brief reply is schedule and errors. Burrow solely performed three video games towards defenses that completed within the high 10 in go protection DVOA (Pittsburgh twice, Cleveland as soon as), however he performed six within the backside 10 (Detroit, Jacksonville, Kansas Metropolis, the Jets, and Baltimore twice). Burrow additionally took a league-high 50 sacks and was within the high 10 in interceptions regardless of sitting out Week 18.

The Raiders completed twenty first in protection towards the go, narrowly lacking giving Burrow a seventh sport towards a bottom-10 group. Are they able to exploiting Cincinnati’s self-destructive tendencies? Sure and no. They weren’t particularly excessive in adjusted sack fee, however they have been eleventh in stress fee. High edge rusher Maxx Crosby had simply 8.0 sacks, falling outdoors the highest 30, however he led the NFL with 51 pressures (hurries plus sacks). As for interceptions, they in all probability will not be an issue for the Bengals—Las Vegas intercepted a league-low six passes this season, one every by six completely different defenders, three of them in a single sport towards the Broncos in Week 6.

Las Vegas did not have a variety of fascinating go protection splits by both receiver or route—they mainly ranked within the mid-teens or 20s in every little thing—however a few of their particular person defenders had eye-popping outcomes. Casey Hayward, who began all 17 video games, confronted a median goal 17.4 yards past the road of scrimmage, deepest out of 81 qualifying cornerbacks by practically 2 full yards . As you would possibly anticipate, he ranked loads greater in protection success fee (56.3%, thirty first) than yards allowed per goal (8.3, 62nd). In the meantime, nickelback Nate Hobbs was on the different excessive: 79th in common depth of goal, next-to-last in success fee, center of the pack in yards allowed per goal. Brandon Facyson, the starter reverse Hayward within the second half of the 12 months, had numbers nearer to Hobbs; anticipate the 2 of them to surrender shorter stuff whereas the Bengals attempt to isolate Chase and Higgins towards Hayward on shot performs. We also needs to level out Raiders linebacker Denzel Perryman led all gamers at his place with 59 targets in protection regardless of lacking two video games. His per-target stats have been nothing particular, however groups definitely threw his approach loads. This can be as a result of the Raiders performed much more zone protection than the Bengals—49% of the time, the very best fee within the league.

We have now barely talked about Joe Mixon up to now, and that is one thing of an oversight on our half—he really led the group with 1,519 yards from scrimmage and 16 whole touchdowns. His effectivity stats aren’t nice, however solely Najee Harris and Jonathan Taylor had extra whole touches this 12 months. The Bengals like to run him off deal with, the place they made the highest 4 in frequency, and he was robust to convey down, rating 14th at his place in damaged tackles. This was a team-wide power for Cincinnati, which had the fourth-best damaged deal with fee on offense. Chase, Higgins, and Boyd have been all within the high 30 amongst wideouts. Even Uzomah received into the act, rating third amongst tight ends. The Raiders protection was about common in damaged tackles; security Johnathan Abram led the group with 15.

If there’s one factor it is best to take away from our line stats, it must be this: the Bengals shouldn’t, beneath any circumstances, anticipate to win this sport with short-yardage runs. They solely transformed 51% of their “energy” alternatives on offense. The one worse group was the Falcons, and so they have been taking part in a large receiver at operating again for many of the 12 months. The Raiders, in the meantime, have been the NFL’s greatest protection in short-yardage conditions, permitting a profitable play solely 55% of the time. A number of credit score for that goes to Crosby and Perryman, in addition to defensive tackles Quinton Jefferson and Johnathan Hankins. Between go rush and short-yardage dominance, the Las Vegas defensive entrance might be the important thing to a wild-card win.


The Bengals have been the one group to rank within the high 4 in each placekicking and kickoffs, and Evan McPherson handles each of these duties. He was excellent on discipline targets beneath 40 yards this 12 months and solely missed two further factors, although he solely went 15-of-20 on longer kicks. Kevin Huber and the punt protection group have been stable, however the Bengals have been bottom-eight returning each punts and kickoffs. Selecting somebody to deal with these jobs did not appear to be excessive on their precedence record—they used 4 completely different punt returners and 7 (!) completely different kickoff returners.

Kickoffs have been a bugaboo for the Raiders, whether or not they have been kicking or receiving—they have been within the backside 5 in each classes, averaging lower than 20 yards per return themselves whereas giving up a 100-yard landing to Dallas’ Tony Pollard. Lead wideout Hunter Renfrow dealt with punt return duties and left them in the course of the pack there. Punter AJ Cole led the NFL with a 50.0-yard gross punting common, however his protection groups gave up 12.2 yards per return, second-worst behind Inexperienced Bay. Daniel Carslon linked on 40 of 43 discipline purpose makes an attempt, together with an 18-of-20 efficiency from 40 yards or extra.


Given their explosive nature, there’s a probability the Bengals bounce out to an enormous early lead, and if that occurs this one might be over rapidly—the Bengals ranked fourth on offense whereas taking part in with a two-score lead, whereas the Raiders have been twenty eighth on protection when dropping large. It is extra probably, although, that the climate forecast (freezing temperatures with an opportunity of snow) turns this right into a defensive rock-fight that is not determined till the fourth quarter. The Raiders definitely have had extra success in these eventualities this 12 months: they went 7-2 in video games determined by eight factors or much less, and have become simply the third group ever (becoming a member of Tim Tebow’s Broncos and the John Skelton/Kevin Kolb Cardinals in 2011) to go 4-0 in additional time. The Bengals went 4-5 in one-score video games (together with final week towards Cleveland) with a 1-2 report in additional time.

That very same climate, nevertheless, might assist Cincinnati. Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic factors out that Derek Carr has misplaced all 5 of his video games at 37 levels or colder, and his groups have by no means scored greater than 17 factors.

The Bengals are going into this sport as six-point favorites. We predict that is too large, however we nonetheless anticipate Cincinnati to win. Let the Raiders cowl, and let the bettors and bookies have their enjoyable. The Bengals can be completely satisfied to get their first playoff win since 1990.




DVOA (Protection-adjusted Worth Over Common) breaks down every play of the season and compares it to the NFL common primarily based on scenario and opponent. You may discover it defined additional right here. Since DVOA measures capability to attain, a adverse DVOA signifies a higher protection and worse offense, and a constructive DVOA signifies a higher offense and worse protection.

Staff DVOA numbers incorporate all performs; since passing is usually extra environment friendly than speeding, the common for passing is definitely above 0% whereas the common for speeding is beneath 0%.

SPECIAL TEAMS numbers are completely different; they characterize worth in factors of additional discipline place gained in comparison with NFL common. Subject purpose ranking represents factors scored in comparison with common kicker at similar distances. All particular groups numbers are adjusted by climate and altitude; the entire is then translated into DVOA so it may be in comparison with offense and protection. These numbers are defined right here.

Every group is listed with DVOA for offense and protection, whole together with rush and go, and rank among the many 32 groups in parentheses. (If the DVOA values are obscure, it’s simple to only have a look at the ranks.) We additionally record WEIGHTED DVOA (WEI DVOA), which is predicated on a method which drops the worth of video games early within the season to get a greater thought of how groups are taking part in now (defined right here).

Every group additionally will get a chart displaying their efficiency this 12 months, game-by-game, in accordance with whole DVOA. Along with a line displaying every sport, one other line exhibits the group’s pattern for the season, utilizing a rolling common of the final 5 video games. Be aware that regardless that the chart seems within the part for when every group has the ball, it represents whole efficiency, not simply offense.


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