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Week 9 Preview: Falcons @ Raiders

Often times the so called experts and others "grade" teams at the half way point. Although officially the half point for the Raiders comes next week, I thought it would be interesting to look at how we stack up against the NFL and "grade" the four major areas of the team for this week's preview. Before you stop reading, note that I wont do this based on any opinion. Simply put the grading will be A-F and split evenly based on ypg (which is a pretty standard statistic) in each area. To be conservative, six teams get an A, B and C and seven get a D and F. So that would be two A+, two A and two A- or two F+, three F, and two F- (I know there isn't technically an F+ or F-, but for the sake of these rankings there will be). I will do a more comprehensive analysis with other stats and position analysis next week after the Raiders officially reach the half way point. Also included is the Falcons rankings in each area to see how we stack up.

OFFENSE
Overall: F+ (ATL: B)
NFL Rank 26 (10)

Passing Offense: F (D)
NFL Rank 30 (21)
To be fair, Russell doesn't have anyone to throw to and Kiffin hardly was throwing the ball at all, but it is what it is.

Rushing Offense: B+ (A)
NFL Rank 7 (3)
I think this is inflated based on recent performance, but we have had significant injuries to Fargas and now McFadden that have limited the extreme potential of this group.

DEFENSE
Overall: F+ (D-)
NFL Rank 26 (25)

Passing Defense: D+ (D-)
NFL Rank: 19 (24)
If you would have asked me at any point before the season that it was possible the pass D would be so bad, I would have called you crazy. Hall has started to adjust after a horrible start, Asomugha is still a stud. Wilson is a liability in coverage and Huff hasn't played like a starting FS and looks like a bust now, which is the first time I have been able to admit that he was headed down that road. Maybe we should try Huff at CB?

Rushing Defense: F+ (D)
NFL Rank: 26 (23)
What started out promising has headed down hill. Burgess going down with an injury, and Warren having the nagging Pectoral tear likely played a role. It doesn't help we got blown out in a couple games.

The only area we have the advantage is Passing Defense, by a tiny bit. However, the Falcons aren't overwhelming in any area EXCEPT rushing offense. This leads me to believe that if we stop the run, we win. With what will possibly be a very sloppy field tomorrow, the run game will be important.

I also think we may finally be back to where we were as a team before the coaching change. The funny part about our position at 2-5 is that we are just two games out of first and we play all of our division again in back-to-back weeks starting week 11 with two of the three away and the easiest opponent being KC at home. That isn't exactly what you look at and think we can get back into the race, but at this point none of the opponents we face look formidable, meaning there is a slight chance we can win them. I'm not going to sit here and be a homer and tell you we will, but if Russell can mature a little every week and McFadden can get back on the field, there is at least a glimmer of hope. Besides, fat lady isn't going to sing in the AFC West for a long time, my guess week 17.

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