The Giants are coming home to face the Raiders on Sunday. The Raiders are coming off their bye week at 5-2 and sit in first place in the AFC West. Special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is the team's interim head coach.
When the Raiders have the ball…
1. The Raiders have one of the more efficient offenses in football. They are ninth in yards per game (393) in the NFL and eighth in yards per play (6.04). Their offensive DVOA (a metric designed to measure overall offensive efficiency) is only ranked 18th in the NFL.
The Raiders protect the football. They are tied for eighth in turnover rate (+4) and only have five giveaways (tied for second-fewest). This offense, which likes to use a fullback, are a pass-first team. Only three teams average fewer than the Raiders 85.4 yards per game. Josh Jacobs leads the Raiders in rushing with 204 yards, but has dealt with injuries for much of the season (including a chest injury before the bye). Jacobs is just averaging 40 rush yards per game and 3.4 per carry. Kenyan Drake has been the team's passing option and former Washington running back Peyton Barber backs up Jacobs. Jacobs was not on Wednesday's injury report.
2. Some of the Raiders' ineffectiveness in the run game can be traced back to a completely reconstructed offensive line. Kolton Miller has developed into a high-level left tackle, especially in pass protection. According to Pro Football Focus he has allowed no sacks and just one quarterback hit this season. Rookie Alex Leatherwood started the season at right tackle, before blocking issues forced the team to slide him inside to guard. Brandon Parker has replaced him at right tackle and allowed no sacks and four quarterback hits in his 210 snaps at that spot. Andre James is the starting center, and John Simpson is the starting left guard.
Overall, the Raiders have allowed a 35.4% pressure rate this season, which is the 13th highest rate in the NFL. Derek Carr has been sacked 17 times, right around the league average. Carr has been one of the better quarterbacks in the league operating under pressure this season, with the third most passing yards in the league when facing pressure. Against blitzes, the Raiders have a 107.3 quarterback rating, which ranks 11th in the NFL.
3. Carr only has 12 touchdown passes, but ranks fifth in the NFL in passing yards (2269 yards), sixth in yards per attempt (8.5)and fourth in adjusted completion percentage (79.7% according to PFF). No has more than the Raiders' 48 pass attempts of 20+ yards, and only one team has more than their 37 completions, even though they have already had their bye week.
4. Henry Ruggs III was the team's primary speed deep threat and responsible for 12 explosive plays before he was cut. Bryan Edwards (third round, 2020) will likely pick up many of Ruggs' snaps. At 6'3 and 215, he is excellent after the catch and has the size to run through arm tackles in the secondary. Hunter Renfrow is their primary slot receiver and is one of the shiftiest and most detailed route runners in the NFL. Zay Jones will also get more opportunities with Ruggs no longer on the team. Darren Waller is the team's top target and missed Week 7 with an ankle injury, but is expected to be back after the bye week. At 6'6 and 255 pounds with 4.46 speed, he is a matchup nightmare. Of his 378 receiving yards, 135 have come after the catch and 61 have come after contact.
Keys for the Giants' defense…
- Neutralize Waller as a deep ball threat
- Pressure up the middle to make Carr move from the pocket before he can deliver the ball downfield
- Find proper matchups for Darren Waller (James Bradberry?) and Hunter Renfrow (Darnay Holmes?) to minimize their impact
View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Raiders ahead of their Week 9 matchup.
When the Giants have the ball…
5. The Raiders' strength this year has been defending the pass. They are the fourth in the NFL in yards allowed per pass play (5.95). Gus Bradley still runs the system that brought him notoriety in Seattle. No team runs more "Cover 3" than the Raiders (57.4% of their coverage snaps). Only two other teams run that coverage scheme more than 40% of the time.
CB Casey Hayward Jr. has only allowed 11 catches for 125 yards, with four passes defended. Those 11 catches have only yielded seven first downs and four passes that gained 15 yards or more according to PFF. Slot Nate Hobbs (one missed tackle) has allowed 22 catches for only 153 yards, according to PFF. With injuries to Trayvon Mullen and Damon Arnette, Brandon Facyson and veteran Desmond Trufant have picked up the other snaps at outside cornerback. The Raiders have been good at preventing big plays through the air this season. They have allowed 15+ yard gains on only 9.9% of their pass plays, which is the fourth-lowest rate in the league.
Strong safety Johnathan Abram, who often plays in the box, and range-rover free safety Trevon Moehrig round out the group.
6. Much like those old Seahawks defenses, the Raiders to do not blitz and trust their defensive line to apply pressure without help. Their 10.9% blitz rate is the lowest in the NFL, but the team has the highest pressure rate in the NFL at 42.5%, according to PFF.
LDE Maxx Crosby has five sacks and nineteen quarterback hits. According to PFF, Crosby leads the NFL with 52 pressures despite already having a bye week. Right edge Yannick Ngakoue has managed four sacks and 10 quarterback hits this season. PFF has tracked him with 32 pressures (16th in the NFL). DT Solomon Thomas has 2.5 sacks and 10 quarterback hits with 21 pressures from the 3-technique spot. Carl Nassib and Clelin Ferrell rotate in on the edge.
The run defense has been their primary weakness. Only three teams are allowing more than the Raiders (131 rush yards per game), and only six are allowing more than their 4.57 yards per carry. Denzel Perryman is a physical downhill linebacker, and he plays alongside Cory Littleton, who is considered more of a coverage linebacker. KJ Wright and Nick Kwiatkoski also rotate in at linebacker.
Keys for the Giants' offense…
- Contain the Raiders' edge rushers with extra blockers, play-action, moving pockets and quick game
- Be patient and be happy to take short gains in the passing game
- Attack with the tight ends down the seam against "Cover-3" for some explosive plays
View photos of the Las Vegas Raiders likely starters ahead of the Week 9 matchup against the Giants at MetLife Stadium.