Checking the Numbers: Chargers-Raiders Game

On Monday night, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders met for a game in which the Chargers were heavy favorites. With solid fundamental football, the Raiders held San Diego in check for much of the game. But, with time growing short, quarterback Philip Rivers led his team on the game winning drive, capped off by Darren Sproles’ TD run with 18 seconds left. There are plenty of recaps out there reviewing the game, but here I wanted to look at this game from my own analytical perspective.

In this post, I took the box score stats from the game and compared how each team did against their season averages from the 2008 season. If it were later in the year, I would compare them against each team’s average so far in the 2009 season. But, since the previous season usually serves as the baseline for predictions going into a new year, I think that analyzing against the previous season’s numbers is perfectly acceptable. Perhaps after week 6 or 7 (maybe 8), I will begin using current season averages as the basis for comparison.

So, anyway, on to the numbers! (Box Scores taken from Yahoo! Sports and 2008 averages from Below, I have four tables.

Chargers’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Chargers’ 2008 Offensive Averages

The first table is a comparison of San Diego’s offensive numbers from this game with their average numbers from the 2008 season. This gives an indication as to how well the Raiders’ defense performed in this game because it shows whether the Chargers’ offensive numbers were above or below their 2008 averages.

Team Statistics Raiders’ Def vs. Chargers’ Off
  SD SDAvgOff % Difference
  First Downs 19 18.81 1.00%
    Passing 14 11.94 17.28%
    Rushing 5 5.75 -13.04%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 317 349 -9.17%
    Total Plays 62 57.75 7.36%
    Average Gain Per Play 5.1 6 -15.00%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 77 107.88 -28.62%
    Rushes 23 26.31 -12.59%
    Average Per Rush 3.3 4.1 -19.51%
  NET YARDS PASSING 240 241.13 -0.47%
    Yards Per Pass Play 6.2 7.7 -19.48%
    Times Sacked 3 1.56 92.00%
    Had Intercepted 1 0.69 45.45%
    Fumbles Lost 1 0.56 77.78%

The main thing that sticks out to me is the job that the Raiders’ defense was able to do on the Chargers’ rushing game. They held it to nearly 29% below the 2008 average. Richard Seymour, at least in this game, appeared to be worth the first round pick the Raiders gave up to get him. The injuries to the  Chargers offensive line probably contributed to this as well.

Raiders’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Chargers’ 2008 Defensive Averages

The second table is a comparison of the Raiders’ offensive numbers from the game to the Chargers’ defensive averages from 2008. This tells us how the Raiders’ offense performed compared to Chargers’ defensive averages from last year.

Team Statistics Raiders’ Off vs. Chargers’ Def
  OAK  SDAvgDef % Difference
  First Downs 19 21.19 -10.32%
    Passing 9 13.31 -32.39%
    Rushing 8 6.13 30.61%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 366 349.94 4.59%
    Total Plays 65 65.06 -0.10%
    Average Gain Per Play 5.6 5.4 3.70%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 148 102.56 44.30%
    Rushes 32 25.5 25.49%
    Average Per Rush 4.6 4 15.00%
  NET YARDS PASSING 218 247.38 -11.87%
    Yards Per Pass Play 6.6 6.3 4.76%
    Times Sacked 1 1.75 -42.86%
    Had Intercepted 2 0.94 113.33%
    Fumbles Lost 1 0.56 77.78%

The Raiders’ offense performed well against the Chargers’ defense, particularly in the running game, with 44% more yards than the San Diego’s defense average allowing in 2008. The passing yards were below the 2008 defensive average, but that’s not entirely surprising, since JaMarcus Russell is still developing into a starter. His main problem was the two interceptions, which was above the Chargers’ average from a year ago.

Raiders’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Raiders’ 2008 Offensive Averages

The third table compares the Raiders’ offensive output in this game against their average offensive output from 2008. So, it gives an indication as to how the Chargers’ defense performed against the Raiders’ 2008 offensive averages.

Team Statistics Chargers’ Def vs. Raiders’ Off
  OAK  OAK AvgOff % Difference
  First Downs 19 14.06 35.11%
    Passing 9 7.69 17.07%
    Rushing 8 5.44 47.13%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 366 272.25 34.44%
    Total Plays 65 57.44 13.17%
    Average Gain Per Play 5.6 4.7 19.15%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 148 124.19 19.17%
    Rushes 32 28.69 11.55%
    Average Per Rush 4.6 4.3 6.98%
  NET YARDS PASSING 218 148.06 47.24%
    Yards Per Pass Play 6.6 5.2 26.92%
    Times Sacked 1 2.44 -58.97%
    Had Intercepted 2 0.69 190.91%
    Fumbles Lost 1 0.75 33.33%

This table reflects even more dramatically what the second table above showed. The Raiders’ offense exceeded their average production from a year ago in every category, except in turnovers. The Chargers defense did force them into more turnovers than they averaged last year. But, overall, the Raiders’ offense performed quite well. I guess the real question here is whether the it was their improvement or more concerns for the Chargers’ defense?

Chargers’ Offensive Boxscore vs. Raiders’ 2008 Defensive Averages

The fourth table compares the Chargers’ offensive output with the Raiders’ average defensive numbers from 2008. So, this gives an indication as to how the Chargers’ offense performed against the Raiders’ defense.

Team Statistics Chargers’ Off vs. Raiders’ Def
  SD OAK AvgDef % Difference
  First Downs 19 20.31 -6.46%
    Passing 14 10.38 34.94%
    Rushing 5 8.06 -37.98%
  TOTAL NET YARDS 317 360.94 -12.17%
    Total Plays 62 65.31 -5.07%
    Average Gain Per Play 5.1 5.5 -7.27%
  NET YARDS RUSHING 77 159.69 -51.78%
    Rushes 23 33.88 -32.10%
    Average Per Rush 3.3 4.7 -29.79%
  NET YARDS PASSING 240 201.25 19.25%
    Yards Per Pass Play 6.2 6.4 -3.13%
    Times Sacked 3 2 50.00%
    Had Intercepted 1 1 0.00%
    Fumbles Lost 1 0.5 100.00%

Looking at these numbers, the Chargers’ offense really struggled in this game, particularly running the ball. They gained nearly 52% fewer yards on the ground than the Raiders averaged allowing last year. That was somewhat offset by gaining about 19% more in the passing game. But, again, this raises the question as to whether the Raiders have improved or there should be concern for the Chargers.

Overall, this was a tight game with the Raiders having the edge in yards gained but losing the turnover battle and, ultimately, the game. I think that this game reflected a combination of the Raiders committing to better fundamentals and the Chargers’ tendency to start out slow under Norv Turner.

Let me know your thoughts.


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