Even at 31, Raiders' Lynch is Among NFL's Toughest Runners - NBC Bay Area

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Even at 31, Raiders' Lynch is Among NFL's Toughest Runners

Stats show that running back is still breaking tackles and forcing defenders to miss just the way he did in his best seasons

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    Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (No. 24) has been as physical as ever this season. (Photo by Don Feria/Getty Images)

    With 695 yards rushing and two games remaining this season, Marshawn Lynch is unlikely to have his sixth 1,000-yard year.

    Lynch ranks 18th among NFL running backs, and is averaging just 53.3 yards per game.

    Yet the former Seahawks star, who came out of retirement to play for his hometown Raiders in 2017, actually has had a good season. He’s averaging 4.3 yards per carry, a stat that’s better than in four of his 1,000-yard seasons. And, Lynch’s production over the second half of the Raiders’ schedule has been better, with bigger contributions as both a runner and receiver.

    Lynch, 31, is signed for next year, too, and the way he’s played in 2017 is an indication that he could still be very effective next season at an age when most running backs have lost their impact.

    This week, the analytic website Pro Football Focus noted Lynch has graded very well – even though the Raiders offense as a whole has slipped.

    “Even after a year in retirement, Lynch remains one of the most difficult backs in the NFL to tackle,” wrote PFF. “He ranks seventh in elusive rating, which factors his 2.97 yards after contact per attempt and 40 missed tackles forced. Lynch ranks ninth at running back this season (as graded by PFF).”

    Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes that Lynch’s yards per contact per rush ranks No. 3 in the NFL behind only LeGarrette Blount of the Eagles and Mark Ingram of the Saints.

    Lynch will be running against the Eagles defense in a Christmas night matchup, and Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson says Lynch looks as good as he’s ever looked.

    “Physical guy, runs extremely hard downhill,” he told the media this week. “When I say physical, he doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s going to definitely punish tacklers. That’s his demeanor. That’s always been his demeanor.”

    The 6-8 Raiders take on the 12-2 Eagles Monday. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.

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