Coming into this Sunday's matchup against the Buffalo Bills, the Oakland Raiders have the No. 8 ranked pass defense in the NFL. They surrender just 228.1 yards per game through the air; on the surface, compared to the Bills' vaunted No. 5 pass defense, which gives up 210.1 per game, that seems fairly impressive.
It isn't. The middling Raiders defense ranks No. 25 against the run, and their pass defense is bolstered by the fact that teams are simply beating them on the ground. Where the Bills hold opponents to under 6.0 yards per pass attempt, have allowed 14 touchdowns while intercepting 19 passes, and have allowed passers to sport only a 73.9 rating against them, the Raiders are at figures of 7.1, 25-to-7, and 98.3, respectively.
The 8-6 Bills are a conservative outfit, built to protect the football and win with opportunistic scoring and tough defense and special teams. They'll continue to be that team against Oakland, because it's their best chance of winning any given game. But with Darrelle Revis looming in Week 17, if rookie wideout Sammy Watkins is going to have one last huge game - one in which he realizes his immense promise, has quality quarterback play, and acts as a complement to the renowned defense, as he has done in a handful of big games already this season - this is the week to do it.
Watkins went on a tear in October, earning Rookie of the Month honors, but has largely been contained since. He went four weeks without cracking the 35-yard mark in a single game, and after a 127-yard effort in Denver - most of which came as the Bills went pass-only in a desperate comeback attempt - he caught just one pass for 28 yards in last week's win over Green Bay. Buffalo needs at least one more big game from Watkins if they're going to make the postseason. Ideally, they'll get two.
|WR||Sammy Watkins||901||116||12.9%||23.2%||59 rec, 850 yds, 5 TD|
|WR||Robert Woods||787||91||11.6%||18.2%||54 rec, 608 yds, 3 TD|
|RB||Fred Jackson||467||75||16.1%||15.0%||56 rec, 404 yds, 1 TD|
|TE||Scott Chandler||658||63||9.6%||12.6%||42 rec, 440 yds, 2 TD|
|WR||Chris Hogan||376||49||13.0%||9.8%||37 rec, 380 yds, 4 TD|
|RB||Bryce Brown||117||25||21.4%||5.0%||16 rec, 176 yds|
|RB||C.J. Spiller||157||16||10.2%||3.2%||14 rec, 109 yds, 1 TD|
|TE||Chris Gragg||213||10||4.7%||2.0%||7 rec, 48 yds, 1 TD|
|WR||Marquise Goodwin||87||9||10.3%||1.8%||1 rec, 42 yds|
|RB||Anthony Dixon||203||8||3.9%||1.6%||7 rec, 41 yds|
|TE||Lee Smith||289||7||2.4%||1.4%||6 rec, 24 yds, 1 TD|
|TE||MarQueis Gray||79||4||5.1%||0.8%||3 rec, 78 yds|