Packers Periscope: Week 15 at Oakland Raiders

Up Periscope against the Packers week 15 opponent: the Oakland Raiders.  Will the Packers be able to secure their playoff hopes with a win or will they need to rely on some NFC losses to get in?

The Past

It’s been a while since the Packers and Raiders play.  How long, well for one Carson Palmer was still the starting QB for the Raiders and Ryan Grant was the leading rusher for the Packers.  The Packers had just won the Super Bowl and were in the midst of a 15-1 season.  Aaron Rodgers threw a un-Rodgers like interception but was bested by the 4 interceptions that Palmer threw.  As you might have guessed, throwing 4 interceptions isn’t the greatest way to win a football game and the Raiders lost easily 46-16. 

The Present

Overall Team Efficiency

Packers

Raiders

13.8%

2.5%

Offense

Overall

9.3%

5.5%

Run

-4.3%

-15.1%

Pass

27.4%

30.1%

Defense

Overall

-4.7%

1.7%

Run

-9.7%

-11.1%

Pass

-0.8%

10.3%

Special Teams

-0.2%

-1.3%

Quarterback (DYAR)

737

784

 

(All statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders, click here for a detailed description of DVOA and DYAR.  And as always defensive DVOA is the inverse of offensive DVOA so negative numbers are better.)  

First off, the Oakland Raiders are no longer the league’s punching bag.  While they aren’t the best team in any metric by any means the Raiders are consistently average across the board; they rank 12th overall, 11th in offense, 16th in defense and 20th in special teams.  While that might not seem all that special (and it really isn’t), this is the Oakland Raiders we are talking about, who endured nearly a decade of futility due to the failing mental health of former owner Al Davis followed by an incredibly long rebuilding process under Reggie McKenzie. 

Interestingly, Derek Carr is the first quarterback the Packers have faced that has more DYAR than Aaron Rodgers (the Packers did face Russell Wilson, but he gained much of his DYAR in the second half of the season), albeit Carr is ranked 6th while Rodgers is currently in a down year at 7th.  I think this may belie the fact that even when Rodgers has been “terrible” a terrible Rodgers is still better than all but 6 quarterbacks in the league.  If anything Rodgers play this year has been more “normal” or realistic rather than the Madden-esque numbers that we’re used to seeing him produce.  Keep that in mind that most teams would kill to have the season that Rodgers is having.    

The biggest matchup likely will the Packers defense against the Oakland passing game, that features potential rookie of the year Amari Cooper and a revitalized Michael Crabtree.  The Packers shouldn’t have much issue dealing with the Raiders putrid running game, which should make getting to the quarterback and shutting down his receivers their top priority.  On the other side of the ball, the Raiders are particularly susceptible against the pass and Mike McCarthy should look to get the ball in the air after showing a big running game the last week. 

 

The Future

While the star of an NFL team is the quarterback, the star of the franchise is really the owner.  No other person has more control to the destiny of a franchise than the guy who signs the checks.  A team may have a fluky season here but there’s  no chance any team owned by Dan Schneider or Jimmy Haslam will ever become a dynasty.  Another prime example is Al Davis; while Davis was a pioneer in professional football and rightly one of it’s founding fathers, Davis was human and as he got older, he started to lose mental control to run a franchise but not the financial control.  Most notable was that Davis forgot the agreed upon contract amount for former Packer Javon Walker and when his agent added extra money, Davis simply signed at the bottom. 

Reggie McKenzie took over the reins after Davis’ death in 2011 and you might say that franchise demolition took McKenzie 3 years with this really only being year 1 or 2 of the rebuild.  While fans and the media alike have called for McKenzie’s head over that time period in reality, it was going to take an unprecedented complete tear down of the organization of which the league had not seen before.  Upon arriving in Oakland as the GM, one of the first things that McKenzie did was construct a “war room” where to conduct a modern NFL draft.  How the Raiders managed to run a franchise without fully functioning football operations is beyond me but then again this is the same franchise that fired its head coach on an overhead projector. 

There’s no assurance that the Raiders can get back to “just winning, baby” but at least there’s a good chance that the Raiders can return to relevancy.  There will likely be good seasons and bad seasons but at least the Raiders are now a modern football team with a modern franchise behind them.  The process, taught by Ron Wolf and Ted Thompson, has built the foundation where a winning team can be produced.  That’s something that the Redskins and Browns can’t claim.  While Packers fans take that for granted, Raiders fans know the pain it took just to get to that point.   

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Comments (7)

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Ima fubar's picture

December 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm

Surprised the Raiders didn't learn cheap ball from the Oakland A's. Pay big money for a couple of stiffs then sniff around for has beens to fill the rest of the roster. Not been working well past few years.

The Raiders are not getting skills players in key position of each side of the ball and have been impressive so far. One more good draft and this team will not be a taken for grated win anymore.

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hobbes's picture

December 18, 2015 at 12:46 pm

Unfortunately football and baseball vary widely in the acceptance of statistics, which is the foundation of the Oakland A's management. The money ball strategy basically posits that teams overvalue certain traditional performance statistics that may not have too much relevancy to winning (the equivalent would 40 times in football) and also undervalue certain statistics that are relevant to winning games. Sabremetrics values runs over batting average since runs are more correlated to winning for instance.

The problem with translating this to football is that baseball plays are very defined in action and result; for instance the pitcher throws the ball, the batter hits the ball or doesn't and then runs for 1st base or doesn't. On the other hand, football so many more variables. A quarterback could call a motion, change the play, pass the ball instead of running it or just take off with the ball. And that's just regarding the quarterback. Part of the fun of football is that no fan really knows what's going to happen next.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 18, 2015 at 02:08 pm

Not a game to be taken lightly and I hope and trust that they play accordingly. I have been concerned about this game since schedule came out and now even more so. Have to get the passing game going and protect Aaron. Not sure we can lean as much on run game this week.

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hobbes's picture

December 18, 2015 at 03:01 pm

A win certainly helps (it guarantees a playoff berth), but the Packers are basically assured a playoff berth even if they lose out and the Vikings win out. Obviously if the Packers lose out they would be the wildcard and have to play all their games on the road but winning this game isn't paramount to their season like say the Eagles/Redskins/Giants.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 18, 2015 at 03:16 pm

All true, but this year it seems that much more critical that they be on a roll going into playoffs. Like our chances better that way.

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WKUPackFan's picture

December 18, 2015 at 05:10 pm

Great article Thomas. Nice to see someone who recognizes Oakland's improvement. The Raiders have had trouble running the ball lately, but Latavius Murray is a good back.

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ray nichkee's picture

December 18, 2015 at 08:38 pm

I have never heard about the coach getting fired on a projector screen. Can you share more please?

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