Chicago Bears @ Oakland Raiders – Week 5 Statistical Preview
By Ben Rolfe
Using the numbers from the last four weeks, what should we be looking out for in the first London game of 2019?
The London games are finally here, and we are super excited. It kicks off today with the Oakland Raiders hosting the Chicago Bears. This game is fascinating because both of these teams have demonstrating inconsistencies and now you chuck a trip to a wet London into the equation and things get really interesting. Can the Raiders avenge their humiliation at the hands of Seattle last season? Or will the Bears make it another trip to London to forget for the Raiders?
This season we here at the touchdown want to help you understand more about what you can expect or are seeing if you choose to watch the full game on Sky as opposed to Red Zone. You can check out the superb piece by Tyler Arthur about how to see what the QB is seeing from your couch here. Each week I will be taking a look at the stats from this season and last, and helping you understand what to expect on Sunday.
Using these numbers, we will try and get a feel for how the teams might attack each other. What elements will be crucial in deciding the outcome, and what might be a bluff? Additionally, each week we will look at those all-important third down and Red Zone numbers. Along with turnovers they are the most crucial statistics in the game of football. Prolong drives and score touchdowns when you get inside the 20 and you stand a good chance of winning. Settle for punting and kicking field goals and you are fighting an uphill battle.
Let’s take a look at our Week 5 6pm contest as the Chicago Bears take on the Oakland Raiders in the first ever game at White Hart Lane in London.
Can the Raiders find the key to unlocking the Bears defense?
2019 has been yet another good season for the Chicago Bears defensively. The Bears have picked right back up from where they left off last year, having allowed a maximum of 15 points in any game this season. They rank top-10 in a number of stats defensively, with the only notable exceptions being passing yards (12th), and first downs allowed (14th). The passing yards numbers being that high can be attributed to them having seen the fifth most passing attempts in the NFL. However, those first down numbers do convey some concern, because they also rank 18th in the league in average time per drive and 21st in average plays per drive (6.1).
The scary thing is that despite ranking in the bottom half in these two statistics their defense is still dominating on the scoreboard. The problem is can the Raiders sustain drives and keep the defense on the field in an attempt to tire them out? The evidence would suggest yes. The Raiders rank 10th in the NFL offensively in average plays per drive, and fourth in average time per drive. However, that has been built on a run game which averages 5.1 yards per rush. Unfortunately for Oakland, the Bears have been elite against the run game, allowing just 3.0 yards per rush, 2nd best in the league.
Can the Raiders move the ball through the air?
Early indications would say no. The Raiders rank in the bottom half of the league in most passing statistics, including net yards per attempt. That only gets worse when you add in that their best receiver, Tyrell Williams, has not practiced this week and is likely out for the game. Throw in Derek Carr ranking 30th in aDOT and 12th in Drop%, and things do not get more promising. However, the three games the Bears have won this year they have won by forcing turnovers and winning the turnover battle. Well, Carr is at least risk adverse. He ranks second best in the league in bad throw %, behind only Dak Prescott.
Another interesting trend for this Raiders offense is their offensive line. Carr has been hit just three times when passing this season and averages just two sacks per game. That is better than last year where he was sacked over three times per game, 8.4% of his drop backs, and was hit 28 times. The Bears have 17 sacks this season, so if the offensive line can hold up and keep Carr clean he could pick this defense apart using his short throws to Darren Waller.
What will Chase Daniel bring to the Bears offense?
Daniel was good last week, he completed 73% of his passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. It was nothing incredible, but in a relief effort it was more than respectable, and it led the Bears to a win. After a full week of practice can he now take another step? Last season Daniel played in five games, starting two. In those games he was solid but not spectacular, so I am not expecting a huge leap this week.
However, Mitchell Trubisky was not playing well at all this season. Across the first three games he averaged a around 180 yards per game, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. It is going to be hard for Daniel to provide less without being a complete disaster. The Bears offense has ranked outside the top-20 in most rushing and passing statistics this season, as well ranking 30th in total yards and 28th in total points scored.
A Battle of Rookie Running Backs
This could be a game decided by two rookie running backs in Josh Jacobs and David Montgomery. Jacobs is averaging over 75 yards per game so far and has added 14 yards per game in the passing game. He has also added two touchdowns and is yet to put the ball on the ground. However, he ranks just 30th in attempts per broken tackle, but he does average three yards after contact per attempt, which is good for seventh in the league. Unfortunately, he is also only averaging two yards per rush before contact this season, which against a defensive line as dominant as the Bears is a major worry.
Montgomery has slowly been getting more touches in the Bears offense. He is only averaging 50 yards per game on the ground, just 3.4 yards per rush, and just four yards per touch. His yards before contact per attempt is similar to Jacobs at 2.1, but he ranks 13th in attempts per broken tackles. The problem is he does not do much with those broken tackles, averaging just 1.4 yards after contact per attempt. As expected, he does not have the raw talent that Jacobs has, but he has a slightly better situation going against the Raiders defensive line (11th in rush yards per attempt; 3.9).
With the weather expected to be wet in London on Sunday we could see a lot of these two running backs this week. However, based off these numbers it might not be all that pretty.
Third Down and Red Zone
Oakland’s offense has been surprisingly efficient on third down this season, converting on 47.1% of attempts, eighth best in the league. However, that is where the positives stop. In the red zone they score a touchdown on just 58.3% of their trips, which is good enough for 15th. Defensively they have really struggled. They allow the fifth most conversions to opposing offenses, 48.1% of attempts, but then have tightened up in the red zone. Teams score touchdowns on just 53.8% of their trips (13th). The problem for the Raiders is that against this defense giving up a handful of field goals may actually be too much to overcome.
The Bears offensive conversion rates are ugly. They rank 24th in third down conversion rate (34.5%) and 26th in red zone conversion rate (44.4%). That is simply not the numbers you expect from a 3-1 team, but then you look at the defense and it all makes sense. On third down, opponents convert on just 27.1% of attempts, and they score touchdowns on just 45.5% of red zone trips (6th). The Bears have built their team on suffocating defense once again this season, and this weekend in London could be just the right conditions for that style of play.
Image Credit: USA Today