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Lions vs. Raiders 5Qs preview: Josh McDaniels at center of Vegas’ offensive failures

A preview with Silver and Black Pride’s Matt Holder about the Week 8 matchup between the Detroit Lions and Las Vegas Raiders.

Las Vegas Raiders v Chicago Bears Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

As if waiting a full week to wipe the memory of last week’s loss to the Baltimore Ravens wasn’t enough, you’re going to have to wait an extra day for the Detroit Lions to take the field for their Week 8 matchup. But as far as opponents go, there aren’t too many more you’d pick over the Las Vegas Raiders for the Lions to get their season back on track before their bye week.

As always, we would never pass up the opportunity to get some intel from the opponent’s perspective. Ahead of this Week 8 matchup between Detroit and Las Vegas, we called on Matt Holder from to give us some insight into who this Raiders team is on both sides of the ball, how they’re feeling about the job Josh McDaniels is doing, and why you should be thinking in field goals when you’re considering how to bet this “Monday Night Football” matchup.

All of the Raiders’ three wins have been one-score games, and the list of teams they’ve beaten isn’t exactly impressive–Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers, and New England Patriots. A couple of their losses, however, have been absolute drubbings, including their most recent loss last week to a two-win Chicago Bears team.

In those offseason report cards collected by the NFL Players Association report card, anonymous players claimed that McDaniels was “less likely to listen to his players” than other coaches around the league as pointed out by Aaron Schatz of FTN Fantasy.

This feels eerily similar to a recent head coach in Detroit who came with a Boston pedigree of his own. So, how much of the Raiders seemingly taking a step back this season is Josh McDaniels’ fault?

Players need to be held accountable too, but it’s hard not to put all of the blame on McDaniels. He has plenty of talent on offense and his hand-picked quarterback, yet the offense hasn’t even scored more than 20 points this season—they got to 21 versus the Patriots via a safety—and the Raiders rank third to last with 16.0 points per game. That’s pathetic seeing as arguably the best wide receiver and running back in the NFL are on the team, not to mention a good No. 2 wideout in Jakobi Meyers.

Las Vegas can’t score points and that’s why they’re either constantly in close games or can’t win. So, a lot of blame has to go on the “offensive genius” who calls plays and also serves as the head coach. It becomes more clear every week that he’s not cut out to lead a team.

The Raiders have been dealing with an injury to the most important position in football, but it seems like they could be in line to get Jimmy Garoppolo back for this Week 8 matchup. He’s been the starter in each of their wins, but his numbers are pretty pedestrian.

How critical has Garoppolo been to the Raiders success, and what have they missed in his absence?

Even when on the field, Garoppolo hasn’t been good this year as he’s thrown more interceptions (eight) than touchdowns (seven). For more context, he’s missed two games and is still tied for the most picks in the league, and Pro Football Focus has credited him with just two “big-time throws” but five “turnover-worthy plays.” To be honest, there isn’t much difference when Jimmy G is and isn’t playing this season. In fact, I think a lot of fans almost hope he doesn’t play so we can at least have a chance at watching Aidan O’Connell start and see what he’s got.

Josh Jacobs was one of the players at the forefront of the offseason discussion about running back salaries and contracts, ultimately signing a one-year deal late in the preseason to re-join the Raiders.

Jacobs isn’t having a start to this season anywhere near his very impressive 2022 campaign, with sharp declines in yards per carry (4.9 v. 2.9), yards after contact per attempt (3.40 v. 2.03), and averaged over one missed tackle forced per four attempts in 2022, down to just one in every ten attempts this season.

Are these numbers a symptom of a slow start for Jacobs, the offensive line, or some combination of the two?

Jacobs was admittedly a little rusty in the first two games of the year after missing all of the spring practices and training camp with the contract dispute. However, the bigger problem has been the offensive line. The Raiders’ line is good in pass protection, but they aren’t people movers in the ground game and don’t create many rushing lanes. Jacobs has had a bunch of negative runs where defenders are in his face almost simultaneously as he gets the ball. A good example of that has to do with the yards after contact average you referenced above. He’s averaging 2.9 yards per carry, so that means he’s getting hit less than a yard past the line of scrimmage consistently. No running back can succeed with that amount of pressure.

Las Vegas ranks 25th in defensive DVOA–21st against pass, 28th against the rush. What’s the issue with the Raiders stopping the run, and what’s keeping them respectable against the pass–is it as simple as: Maxx Crosby?

Pretty much. Crosby is the engine that keeps the Raiders defense moving. He’s their best defensive player, pass-rusher, and run defender and I don’t think there’s a close second. He does help free up other guys to make plays, but if Las Vegas doesn’t have Crosby on the field they’re pretty much screwed defensively.

That being said, I do have to give safety Tre’von Moehrig some credit as he has been playing well and is part of the reason why they’ve been more respectable in coverage. Moehrig has been able to come down with a couple of picks and has made several stops in coverage to prevent first-downs and become one of the few bright spots for the Silver and Black.

What’s one nugget of Raiders’ intel that a gambling Lions fan would find useful for their bet slip this weekend?

McDaniels is addicted to kicking bad field goals. He’s done this twice this season where, late in the game when the Raiders are trailing, he opts to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking the field goal. The offense converts, only to turn around and kick it when it’s fourth and goal a few plays later. It makes no sense because he just wasted time off the clock when he could have had the same amount of points earlier in the drive, but, McDaniels keeps doing it! He’ll also opt for the classic field goal that makes a two-possession game a two-possession game fairly consistently. So, keep that in mind when betting on any over or unders [currently set at 46.5 points total on DraftKings SportsBook, with the Raiders’ over/under set at 17.5 points].

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