Chiefs-Raiders: The most important stats to know for Week 12's TNF game
We've got your fancy stats for Week 12's Thursday Night Football game. Study up for Chiefs-Raiders.
Alex Smith, Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs defense have led Kansas City's midseason resurgence, and Andy Reid has, again, done an impeccable job tapping into his players' potential while masking team flaws in the process.
This old-time rivalry doesn't have the same intensity as it had during the Marcus Allen years, but these teams, and their fans aren't exactly friendly foes, that's for sure.
Here are the five of the most important advanced stats you should know for this AFC West tilt on Thursday Night Football on NFL Network at 8:25 p.m. ET.
(I could have dedicated a large portion of this article to a myriad of stats on how bad the Raiders have been, but dealing with an 0-10 team, that'd have been an easy way out, and frankly, pretty boring.)
An Athletic Marvel
The Oakland Raiders have been one of the least effective rushing teams in football in 2014, but given their current record, they might be willing to unleash their athletic freak of a running back against the Chiefs.
Latavius Murray, the team's sixth-round pick out of Central Florida in 2013, led the Raiders runners in snaps in the Week 11 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Darren McFadden played a season-low 22 snaps, and Maurice Jones-Drew played a season-low 10 snaps.
Just how athletically freakish is Murray? Very athletically freakish, like, more impressive than most of the NFL's top "big" backs.
Here are the numbers from Murray's Pro Day compared to the combine numbers of those elite feature backs.
The last row shows Speed Score, a statistic created by Grantland's Bill Barnwell a while back "which takes into account both a player's time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine as well as his weight." He fully explained the advanced metric here for the Washington Post. Here's a quick excerpt -- "Speed Score bears a significant correlation to NFL carries and yards at levels superior to that of strictly using the 40-yard dash time alone."
Murray's Speed Score is the highest of the group. An average RB Speed Score is somewhere around 100. A score in the 108-112 range is great, and 120 is outstanding. The formula is weight multiplied by 200 divided by 40-yard dash time to the fourth power.
|Speed score comparisons|
|Latavius Murray||Adrian Peterson||DeMarco Murray||Eddie Lacy||Marshawn Lynch||Le'Veon Bell|
|Bench Press Reps||22||N/A||21||N/A||20||24|
Yes, Pro Day 40-times are usually better than combine times due to some home cooking, but I used the fastest times from Indianapolis recorded for all the other runners, not their typically slower, "official" times. Even if Murray's 40 was clocked at 4.42, he'd still have had a Speed Score of 116.85, the highest of this group.
Even if you're not a fan of Speed Score, notice at 223 pounds, how much more agile Murray was than all of the other backs and how explosive he was in the first 10 and 20 yards of his 40-yard dash.
It's about time the Raiders gave him a shot to showcase his -- no hyperbole here -- rather otherworldly athletic talents relative to his size.
Critiquing Carr and Ball Security Smith
To the surprise of many, Derek Carr was the first and only rookie quarterback to begin the 2014 season as his team's starter. While the Raiders have unequivocally been the NFL's worst team, and Carr certainly has had his fair share of rookie mishaps, there have been a few bright spots for the former Fresno State star.
He's done a marvelous job not taking sacks, as evidenced by his super-low sack percentage, which is currently third-best in football.
|Quarterback sack percentages|
Carr also has a low interception percentage of 2.4. Among the 29 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 1 - 3 over the past decade who threw at least 200 passes in their first professional season, only Robert Griffin III (1.3 in 2012), Nick Foles (1.9 in 2012) and Mike Glennon (2.2 in 2013) registered lower interception rates. Can Carr keep his interception percentage at 2.4?
Staying on this subject, Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has been amazingly secure with the football during his time in Kansas City. He's currently the NFL leader in interception rate since the beginning of 2013 among quarterbacks who've attempted at least 400 passes during that span.
|Quarterback interception rates|
|Rank||Name||Attempts Since Start of 2013||INTs||INT %|
It started in San Francisco under Jim Harbaugh, but Andy Reid has instilled in Smith that as long as he doesn't throw interceptions, the Chiefs will be in almost every game thanks to their running game and sound defense.
Since the start of 2013, Kansas City is 18-8, and lost only two games by more than 10 points.
Keys to Raiders' Struggles
The winless Raiders haven't been effective in many areas, but these two statistics are probably the most telling.
First, heading into this game, Oakland averages 4.7 yards per play, the worst figure in the NFL. They actually score a touchdown on a whopping 75 percent of their red-zone trips, the second-highest rate in the league, but they only get into the opposition's red zone 1.6 times per game. Every other team has gets into the red zone at least 2.1 times per contest.
|Yards per play|
|Rank||Team||Yards Per Play|
Also, the Raiders haven't taken care of the football as well as they have needed to this year.
What's more, they've only forced eight turnovers through 10 games, which gives them a turnover margin of minus-12 for worst in the NFL. It's hard to win games when you're losing the turnover battle every week.
Kansas City Streak
History is basically on the line in this matchup, as the Chiefs haven't allowed a rushing touchdown in 11 games, which is already the 6th-longest streak since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. If they don't allow a rushing touchdown the rest of the season, they'll break the league record.
|Consecutive games without allowing a rushing TD|
|Team||Years||Games||Carries Faced||Yards Allowed||Yards Per Carry|
|Chicago Bears||1986 - 1987||15||412||1422||3.45|
|San Francisco 49ers||2011||15||324||1079||3.33|
|San Francisco 49ers||1985 - 1986||13||291||1135||3.90|
|Houston Texans||2011 - 2012||12||271||1037||3.83|
|New York Jets||1985 - 1986||12||294||952||3.24|
|Kansas City Chiefs||2013 - Active||11||293||1430||4.88|
The Chiefs have surrendered the most yards per carry by far among those historic run defenses, which initially says they have the "worst" run defense among that group. While that might be true, to me, it could make their no rushing touchdown streak even more impressive -- they simply tighten up tremendously when the opposition gets inside the 20 or near the goal line.
When you watch Jamaal Charles run against the Raiders, be aware that you're witnessing one of the most efficient running backs the NFL has ever seen. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, 68 running backs have amassed at least 8,500 yards from scrimmage. Charles has 8,638 career yards from scrimmage, and he's currently fourth in career yards per touch in that 44-year period.
|Yards per touch (Career)|
|Name||Yards Per Touch|
Of running backs who carried the ball at least 500 in the NFL, Charles' yards-per-carry average of 5.54 is second all-time -- not just since the merger -- behind Hall of Famer Marion Motley who averaged 5.7 yards per carry on 828 rushing attempts from 1946 to 1955 for the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Charles has a large sample size (1,176 carries), too.
He's been one of the most dynamic running backs in football over the past few seasons, but when he decides to hang up the cleats at pads for the final time, he'll probably be one of the most efficient running backs in NFL history.
Prediction: Chiefs 24 Raiders 13
Andy Reid's a master game-planner, and although the Raiders defensive front four can be disruptive at times, he'll continue to give Alex Smith quick and easy reads so the ball is out quickly. Also, Jamaal Charles will again be the effective focal point for Kansas City. As we've seen on a few occasions, the Raiders will hang tough, but there's just much more talent on both sides for the Chiefs.
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.
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