Inside The Bills

Key to beating Raiders? Fewer possessions

Posted by Chris Brown on December 4, 2016 – 1:15 pm

Just about every team in the AFC is trying to figure out how to stop the Raiders high octane offense that seems to routinely put up 30 points a week in almost effortless fashion. Some teams have come up with the right formula to beating Oakland, and though Atlanta simply outscored them to win, only Kansas City succeeded in executing that formula. And it’s a way that perhaps the Bills can put themselves in position to get a seemingly unlikely road win.

Back in Week 6 the Chiefs went in with the approach of establishing a ground game to set up favorable down and distance on third downs, and converted more than half of those (7-13) to keep their drives alive. Kansas City rushed for 183 yards in the game and went 3-for-6 in the red zone to win going away 26-10.

The key was limiting Oakland’s possessions by keeping their own offense on the field. The Raiders average a shade over 12 possessions per game this season. The Chiefs ability to keep their own drives alive allowed Oakland to possess the ball just 10 times. The Raiders had just 23:15 of possession time.

Add in the fact that Kansas City stopped two of those possessions with takeaways, and it’s more like an eight-possession game for the Raiders.

Buffalo would appear to be in a position to take the same approach with their strong rushing attack and a defensive scheme very similar to that of the Chiefs. Head coach Rex Ryan seems to be in agreement.

“I think the big thing is as a team you try to keep their possessions to a minimum,” said Ryan on his weekly appearance on Coffee with the Coach presented by Tim Horton’s. “I saw the other week against Houston they had just six possessions. Typically in an NFL game you get 12 possessions so I think if we can do that we’ll be in good shape.”

Actually the Raiders had 11 possessions in that game, but they only ran 51 plays as Houston’s defense got off the field on third down allowing the Raiders only four of 13 conversions. The Texans led 20-13 early in the fourth quarter, and only allowed Oakland to have 23:33 in time of possession.

The problem was they got beat over the top for a 75 and a 35-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter and lost 27-20.

One other team that came close to pulling off the upset over the 9-2 Raiders with this formula was Baltimore. The Ravens held a 27-21 lead in the fourth quarter and only let the Oakland offense run 54 plays with time of possession just over 25 minutes, but lost by one when Derek Carr hit Michael Crabtree for 23-yard touchdown with two minutes remaining.

It’s a formula that appears feasible, you just have to have your run game work well in controlling the clock, finish drives and then get stops defensively, and ideally a takeaway or two to keep Carr’s opportunities with the ball to a minimum. It’s just been very hard for most of Oakland’s opponents to pull off.


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