Are the Oakland Raiders Bound to Go Winless?
Death, taxes, and the Oakland Raiders being bad at football. Since 2002, those have been life's certainties.
The Raiders currently have the worst record in the NFL, sitting as the only winless team in the league. They've fired their head coach, they're the oldest team in the NFL, and they'll face just one team from here on out with a losing record.
So exactly how bad is this Raiders team? And, more importantly, what are the chances that this 0-10 squad finishes the year without a win?
They're Not the Worst
It's sometimes hard to explain to people that a team's record isn't always an indicator of how good or bad that team actually is. "Scoreboard" is an easy argument to make, but in the NFL, teams are often just a play or two away from actually swinging their win total by a couple of games.
Yes, the Raiders' record shows that they're the worst team in the NFL, but our advanced numbers tell a different story. According to our nERD metric, which tells us the number of points you'd expect a team to win or lose by versus a league average squad on a neutral field, Oakland is better than Tampa Bay and Jacksonville.
You have that going for you, Raider fans.
The Raiders are still pretty bad though. And we can see that when breaking them down via our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. When you adjust for strength of schedule, here's how the Raiders rank offensively and defensively.
|Pass O||Rush O||Overall O||Pass D||Rush D||Overall D|
It looks as though Oakland's issues are on the offensive side of the ball. The defense has actually been about average this season, while the offense continues to have some trouble.
Clearly the quarterback position means most to an offense, and rookie signal-caller Derek Carr is a big reason for Oakland's struggles. On 381 drop backs this season, Carr's Passing NEP is a poor -20.78, good for a per drop back rate of -0.05. The only quarterback with 300 or more drop backs to have that bad of an average is Blake Bortles, who ranks dead last in the NFL with a -0.13 per drop back Passing NEP. Moreover, Carr's Success Rate - which measures the percent of "positive" passes - is last among this group.
Naturally, the team's receivers haven't had much success as a result. The best receiver on the team in terms of NEP, James Jones, ranks 55th among all receivers. For reference, the Raiders best receiver, per our numbers, has been as effective as Matt Forte through the air this year.
Things aren't going well, and we probably don't need advanced analytics to tell us that. But what exactly are the chances that this Raiders team doesn't even win a game this year?
A Winless Path?
As I mentioned earlier, the Raiders have just one team left on their schedule - the Rams - with a losing record. Not surprisingly, our numbers have that as Oakland's best shot to get a win. The Rams rank 28th in nERD, which is by far the lowest of any remaining team on Oakland's schedule.
If Oakland doesn't get a win there, they could be in trouble. They face Kansas City twice, San Francisco, Buffalo and Denver outside of that St. Louis game (which is in St. Louis, by the way). The Chiefs and Broncos are both top-eight teams in the league according to our numbers, while the 49ers and Bills rank 16th and 17th, respectively. Yikes.
When it's all said and done, our algorithms give the Raiders just a 12.8% chance to go winless this year. It could be a lot worse. But it will be a lot worse if they end up losing tomorrow night and then falling to the Rams in Week 13.