Holy hell, the Raiders will make the playoffs, isn't it?
After surviving the ultimate stumble on Sunday against the winless Bengals, Oakland is 6-4 and looking at the horizon Monday morning with a smile on their collective faces. FiveThirtyEight gives the Raiders a 42% chance of reaching the season right now, even though it kicks over 50% with a victory over the Hollow Jets at MetLife Stadium in Week 12.
Their remaining schedule is as follows:
• Jets ( 3-7)
• Chiefs (6-4) *
• Titans (5-5)
• Jaguars (4-6)
• Chargers (4-6) *
• Broncos (3-7)
* Managers and Chargers play on Monday Night Football.
For those who regularly read The Morning Huddle, you may know how I thought this season in Oakland would go. Jon Gruden spent most of this season as a walking, destructive ham, and yet the team has weathered not only his chaotic game plan strategy but one of the most difficult logistics plans in the NFL this season. The Raiders 2019 corresponds to a contractor who throws a bunch of nail-infected scrap wood into a logger and looks at a sensible colonial who comes out the other side.
In some way, he is convinced by the rest of the team that most of the adversity they We have met this season has nothing to do with the people driving the Raiders. And it works.
Offensively, they are statistically a medium-sized team ( and rising) but Gruden helps them find ways to win games. It's a lot more of a mix than expected, especially when we talk to some of his old players in Tampa who felt that the schedule was never maximized due to Gruden's exclamations. They are really a combination of staples, such as this iso that released running back Josh Jacobs for a touchdown or any of the personnel who swapped he has done in the backfield, creating some interesting downfield conditions when passing plays.
Derek Carr is sixth in passing rating and second in completion percentage and Next Gen Stats expected completion percentage (he actually throws out his expected final score of three points, which speaks to both Carr's decision making and the availability of open receivers). Jacobs is a top-five rusher, and again, to Gruden's credit, the schedule is versatile that he sees a stacked box about 21% of the time. Compare that to other elitushers like Leonard Fournette (35.16) and Derrick Henry (32.09). Frank Gore sees eight plus defenders in the box on more than 40% of his snaps.
Defensively, while I would still rather have Khalil Mack and the matchup problems he can create, the Raiders fans can successfully argue against the most basic, removed, exempt from context, box-level statistics level that Oakland entered on Sunday night games with two players – Maxx Crosby and Benson Mayowa – with more sacks than Mack. Again, this is not an argument I would make in a room full of smart football people, but would probably make you beat when you debate a big man with kissing face painting and pointed shoulder pads.
There are many teams every week in the NFL asking for our attention. The now 7-3 Buffalo Bills scramble for a playoff. Despite a record of 3-7-1, the Cardinals seem to be turning their legal team into something that will be formidable along the way. But neither season started as a burning building with an almost impossible schedule.
Now Oakland comes across and demands our consideration.
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THE KICKER: Have you ever wanted to see David Harbor's airy, tastefully decorated NYC loft? Now is your chance.
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