Welcome to the Al Davis Memorial Edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. Being that this Sunday will mark the first matchup between the Broncos and their fiercest rivals* since the passing of The Crypt Keeper, I thought it appropriate to honor some of Big Al's finest personnel moves with today's STDL.
As for the game, this is not much of a rematch from the MNF opener, as both teams have new QBs (neither of whom has played as well as the guy they replaced, although it's early) and the Raiders will likely be without their best offensive player, RB Darren McFadden. DMC has 510 yards from scrimmage in the teams' last three matchups, helping turn both 2010 meetings into blowouts. Hopefully the absence of McFadden and the newness of Carson Palmer to Oakland helps narrow the gap between these two teams:
* If you think it's the Chargers, ask your dad or older brother
As always, an explanation of the figures:
- Todd Marinovich ANY/A Differential: This is a marriage of PFR's ANY/A (Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt) and CHFF's Passer Rating Differential. As we all know, passing the football is the most reliable way to win games in the NFL. ANY/A has the highest correlation to winning of any metric out there. ANY/A Differential is merely one team's ANY/A minus the ANY/A they've allowed on defense. In other words, how well Denver passes the ball minus how well they defense the pass.
- Robert Gallery ARY/A Differential: The younger sibling of ANY/A Differential (by a week), this is a team's efficiency rushing the football minus the efficiency of their defense in stopping the run.
- JaMarcus Russell TO Differential: Takeaways minus giveaways. If you need help with this one, you must be a Raiders fan and probably refer to this as a ratio.
- They've Had 2 of the Best Punters Ever So I Can't Make Fun of Them Here Net Field Position: This is a team's average starting field position in terms of yards, minus the average starting field position they allow their opponents.
- Mike Shanahan Strength of Schedule: This is each team's strength of schedule as viewed through the prism of PFR's SRS (Simple Rating System).
Not to sound like a broken record, but the stats have not been lying so far this year, and Sunday was no exception. This week Denver should have a better chance than they did against Detroit, but it's still not looking like a very winnable game.
Both teams are allowing more with the pass than they're gaining, but Denver fares much worse on both offense (4.49) and defense (7.57) in that category. Only the Redskins and Jaguars have had a more anemic passing offense this season, while Miami and Indy are the only squads giving up more in the air. Obviously it remains to be seen how the Raiders do going downfield with Carson Palmer, but the reuniting of Palmer and T.J. Houshmandzadeh can only help.
Oakland is running the ball quite efficiently (5.97) as usual, although hopefully the injury to McFadden dampens that. Unfortunately, Michael Bush is a fine backup who hung 133 yards on the Broncos in Denver during the 2009 season. On the flip side, the Raiders are allowing their opponents to run very well against them (5.33 ARY/A), so perhaps that's the best avenue for a Denver (4.88) victory.
Both teams are losing the turnover battle, but Denver is much worse off; only three teams have taken it away less (incredibly, the Steelers are worst in the league with a meager three takeaways), and the Eagles are the only team with more giveaways. Tim Tebow has been fortunate to have lost just one of his four fumbles, even if that one went for a score last week.
Despite the fact that both teams sport among the best kickers and punters in the league, there's a gap between the two teams' net field positions. But it's the fault of neither Britton Colquitt, Matt Prater, nor the team's return men - all rank among the NFL's best this season. Rather, it's the lack of offensive production and abundance of three-and-outs.
Denver has faced a slightly more difficult schedule than has Oakland.
Again, things don't look so hot for the Broncos - we have to hope the Palmer/Bush backfield tandem pales in comparison to Campbell/McFadden (certainly a possibility), and Denver will probably need to win the turnover battle and/or make a big play or two on defense or special teams to have a real chance Sunday in the Black Hole.
PS. If you really thought I was about to honor Al Davis here, then you really must be a Raiders fan...