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The Cheat Sheet: Raiders’ defense vulnerable to Lions’ deep shots

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Detroit Lions vs. Oakland Raiders game preview and prediction.

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

For the second week in a row, the Lions will be facing off against a bottom end pass defense. The Raiders currently have the league’s third-worst defense against explosive pass plays. They’ve given 35 explosive pass plays at a rate of 14 percent.

The Lions, on the other hand, are producing big plays in the passing game at the second-highest rate in the NFL (12 percent). I expect the Lions to use a similar game plan as they did last week against the Giants.

They’ll try to mix in some runs to keep the defense honest, but they will also take their shots downfield.

According to Next Gen Stats, Matthew Stafford ranks second in the NFL in Average Intended Air Yards (10.6), which shows the average Air Yards a passer throws on all attempts.

I expect Stafford’s deep passing to continue on Sunday against a vulnerable Raiders’ defense.

Oakland Raiders v Houston Texans Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Opponent snapshot

The Raiders are 3-4 and are coming off of back-to-back losses. While they’re far better than they were last season, they still are learning how to close out games consistently and they shoot themselves in the foot far too often.

The offense has been quite good at times under Jon Gruden’s tutelage but still rank near the middle of the pack in points per game (18th) and yards per game (14th). Oddly enough, the Raiders have scored nearly a touchdown more per game on the road than they have at home this season, and they’ve only scored more than 24 points once.

Oakland Raiders v Green Bay Packers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Raiders’ biggest threat

Darren Waller

Tight end Darren Waller might not be a household name, but he has been especially dangerous for the Raiders this season. Though the first half of the season Waller has 46 catches for 496 yards and three scores. He also ranks fourth in the NFL in yards per game (70.86).

I highly expect the Raiders to try to exploit the Lions’ man-to-man defensive scheme and get Waller matched up with a linebacker throughout the game.

Oakland Raiders v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Raiders’ weak link

Center

The Raiders lost their starting center (Rodney Hudson) last week against the Texans, and now it appears they might be without their backup center too.

What may be most interesting about the entire situation is that the Raiders are apparently going to slide Richie Incognito to center if Andre James can’t go. That move could make the Raiders weaker at multiple spots across the line.

Incognito hasn’t played center since he did so in an emergency role for Miami in 2010.

Bottom line

This is game could play out quite similarly to last week. The Raiders struggle to stop the pass and have enough firepower on offense to make this a competitive match. Oakland is a slight favorite heading into Sunday, but I think this is one the Lions should win.

Prediction

Lions 28 Raiders 24