Week 8 is almost upon us, and with that, the New Orleans Saints need to take their final shot at redemption and start crawling back to .500 if they want any shot at a postseason appearance. With a win and an Atlanta Falcons win, the Saints would move from 4th in the division to 3rd and have a shot at taking the lead within another week. Is this wishful thinking? Yes. But it all starts this weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders, who sit at 2-4 currently and have been getting the run game going these last 3 weeks. In this article, I will cover how the Saints’ run defense and Raiders’ run offense have performed so far this season, and how we should expect them to match up against each other this Sunday.
How have these two units performed this season?
First off, the Raiders’ rushing offense, has been underutilized this season, but extremely effective when given a chance. They have rushed the 4th least number of times this season (142), have the 17th most rushing yards (771), are tied for the 15th most rushing touchdowns (6), and are tied for 12th in rushing first downs (46). However, as I said, they are extremely effective, ranking 3rd in yards per carry (5.4) and #1 in rushing first down percentage (32.4%). In the last 3 weeks, Josh Jacobs has been on an absolute tear, however, with 140+ rushing yards each game (144,154,143 respectively), 20+ rush attempts each game (28,21,20 respectively), and 1+ rushing touchdown each game (2,1,3 respectively). In total, he has 441 rushing yards on 69 rush attempts (6.39 YPC) and 6 rushing touchdowns during this span.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints’ run defense has been below average in most metrics, aside from preventing rushing first downs. They have allowed the 12th most rush yards (862), are tied for the 10th most rushing touchdowns allowed (7) and have allowed the 13th-highest YPC (4.6), with the 14th most rushing attempts against them (188). Weirdly enough, they have stood strong on 3rd/4th downs however in terms of preventing the run and have allowed the league’s 13th least rushing first downs (44) and 9th lowest rushing first down percentage (23.4%). Overall, they have been just below league average in most rushing stats defensively.
What to expect from this matchup
This is one of the matchups in this game where the Saints are just outmatched. The Raiders have been on an absolute tear lately on the ground and have been able to have their way against the Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, and Houston Texans on the ground. Denver does have a stout rushing defense and KC has an average to above-average front 7, so this is not just random defenses they have done this against.
All things considered, there is a good chance Josh Jacobs goes for 100+ on the ground against the Saints. In his one and only matchup against New Orleans, he had 88 rushing yards on 27 attempts, which was against arguably a stronger interior (one led by Sheldon Rankins), as well as having Trey Hendrickson off the edge. Could the Saints hold Jacobs under 100? Sure. But it should not be expected, as they have allowed 100+ to Cordarrelle Patterson and Christian McCaffrey this season, as well as nearly 100 on the ground to Eno Benjamin (92) and Kenneth Walker (88 on 8 attempts) so far.