The Seahawks face off with the Oakland Raiders on what’s likely to be one of the more entertaining games of the season. Sure, the Raiders and Seahawks had quite the rivalry going when they shared the same division, but that’s not why. That rivalry has petered off since the Seahawks were moved to the NFC West.
It’ll be Halloween, folks. Raiders Nation already takes game garb quite seriously; I can’t even imagine what kind of freak shows will be on stage come game time. I’m setting the over/under of entire plays missed at 2 because the camera crew will likely be too busy filming idiotic mongoloids in the crowd.
So: the Seahawks at the Raiders. The hype this week has revolved around the Raiders’ curb stomping of the Denver Broncos at Denver. Let’s be clear: games like that are an aberration. A team like the Oakland Raiders will not beat a team like the Denver Broncos by that kind of margin for another 10 years. It just doesn’t happen. And don’t be fooled into thinking the Raiders have turned some sort of magical corner: their quarterbacks are still mediocre at best (that’s being very, very gracious), their defense is bottom barrel, and their offensive line still allows an asston of sacks.
Denver did an AWFUL job game planning, and their defense is pretty banged up. They didn’t blitz, and thus Campbell was unmolested and poised. Denver often dropped into coverage (for some odd reason), and McFadden had a career game. To me, that game feels a lot like the first 49ers/Hawks game in 2009 when Gore gashed the Seahawks for a crazy amount of yards. The 49ers were hailed. Except everyone failed to mention Lofa, Mebane, Hill and I’m pretty sure Trufant, were all out for that game.
On to the title of the post, and I’ll illustrate with a simple graphic:
According to the Football Outsiders offensive line stats, the Oakland Raiders are 1st, 7th and 8th in the league in Adjusted Line Yards rushing when rushing off left end, left tackle and between guard/center, respectively. On the flip side, the Seahawks rank 28th, 6th and 21st defending those same rushing lanes. You ready for the fun part?
Brandon Mebane has missed two games, thus far, and as of Wednesday practice he’s questionnable for the Oakland game. Look where he sits on that defensive line. Need I say more?
For those of you not aware, Brandon Mebane is the linchpin of the defensive line. He’s not a stat machine, and thus is mostly ignored by the mass media. Unlike Colin Cole, Brandon can easily handle double teams and can often push them into the backfield. This often opens up opportunities for Cole, Clemons and Bryant to stuff runs or make plays at the quarterback. But when he’s out, a team with two running backs that barely crack the top 50 in offensive Expect Points Added combine for over 110 yards rushing in just 20 attempts. The Arizona Cardinals. You know, that team with no quarterback or any real passing threat? McFadden and Bush are in another league of rushing talent. Ouch.
Brandon’s presence, in my mind, is the single most important factor for this game. If Brandon is unable to play, expect Jason Campbell to hand the ball off over and over and over and over again. And the results won’t be pretty. They will likely run the ball more successfully than any team has against the Seahawks, and the Seahawks will lose footing on what they’ve successful executed this entire season: winning the field position game. The Seahawks have won a lot of games this season with the foot of Olindo Mare. That trend could very quickly come to an end without Brandon.
Don’t slit your wrists, yet. There is hope. Next up: the Seahawks’ strengths versus Oakland’s weaknesses.