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Are The Raiders For Real?

The Raiders have five wins. The Raiders haven't won six or more games since 2002. There is little doubt this team is better than the ones of the past seven seasons. That's not the question everyone is asking.

Are the Raiders for real? Are the Raiders a legitimate playoff team?

A big game against the wounded Pittsburgh Steelers this week will go a long way to proving if the Raiders are a playoff team.

What are the key stats saying?

Raiders' opponents have a combined .444 winning percentage. The Raiders have been victorious against teams with a combined .466 win percentage and lost to teams with a combined .416 winning percentage.

Besides the obviously weak schedule, the Raiders are also playing up and down to their competition.

The much more damaging fact regarding the Raiders schedule is the 1-3 record on the road.

The Raiders lost road contests against the Cardinals, 49ers and Titans. The Raiders blew the games against the two NFC West teams and could be sitting here at 7-2 and being talked about as one of the best teams in football.

Instead, the Raiders are still grasping for league-wide respect and people are questioning if this team has it in them to make a run against a much harder second half schedule.

The Raiders final seven games come against opponents with a combined .539 winning percentage. The Raiders will go on the road and face opponents with a .555 combined winning percentage and have just three home games against opponents with a combined winning percentage of .519.

The Raiders are a terrible 25% on 3rd downs this season while giving up 26 sacks. Based on drop backs, the Raiders are 30th in the league in QB sacked percentage.

The Raiders also have a hard time scoring in the red zone as the team is currently ranked 24th in the league at 44% (47% at home, 41% on the road).

This is largely due to the lack of a passing offense. Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey have had one big game each. Murphy has been sidelined for two games and Chaz Schilens hasn't played all season. Even Zach Miller has missed time.

Combined with a quarterback carousel, this adds up to 198.8 yards per game passing, but hardly a model for consistency.

There are a few other indicators that paint a better picture of the Raiders such as 27 sacks, the second ranked run offense.

An interesting statistic is also average scoring margin. The Raiders rank seventh behind Green Bay, Tennessee, New York Jets, Indianapolis, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. Unlike the past few seasons, the Raiders are scoring and are able to stay in games. Staying in games makes pulling out victories possible and the Raiders have shown a knack for converting when the pressure is on.

The Raiders will be able to scratch out at least a couple more victories, but if they are to have a shot at the playoffs the passing offense must improve.

Give the quarterback time, the receivers time and the pieces could fall together. Jason Campbell and Bruce Gradkowski have been good when given time with the exception being the game in San Francisco.

Receivers Jacoby Ford and Darrius Heyward-Bey have the speed to make a big play. Zach Miller and Louis Murphy should return this week and Chaz Schilens is inching closer.

Jared Veldheer has captured the starting left tackle position and he can be a key cog in the playoff run should he be able to protect the blindside.

If the passing offense improves, so will the red zone scoring and 3rd down conversion percentage. If the Raiders covert in the red zone, the rush defense could also improve as the Raiders will be able to put opponents in passing situations with increased frequency.


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