Josh Jacobs could be a very busy man Sunday.
The rookie Raiders running back has been terrific, and is coming off his best day yet as a pro, running for 123 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-21 victory over the Bears in London.
The former Alabama star is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 86 rushing yards per game (sixth best in the NFL) and is 10th in the league with 430 yards.
And now, the 3-2 Raiders go into Green Bay Sunday to take on the 5-1 Packers – who have one of the NFL’s worst run defenses.
The Packers are giving up an average of 124.5 yards on the ground, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. At times, Green Bay’s run defense has been shredded, as in its 34-27 loss to the Eagles recently, when Philadelphia ran for 176 yards while averaging 5.3 yards a pop.
As Michael Nania of the website Yardbarker wrote this week, Green Bay has been especially weak in short-yardage run defense.
"The Packers allow opponents to convert 85 percent of third- or fourth-down situations with 2 or fewer yards to go (28th in the league)," he wrote. "The Packers have allowed six rushing touchdowns inside their own 3-yard line, tied for most in the league."
Jacobs, meanwhile, is feeling right at home in the NFL, and the Raiders are using him to control the clock and tempo of games. Jacobs has both strength and speed and is elusive. He ranks third in the NFL among qualified backs with an average of 3.6 yards gained after contact and 4.6 avoided tackles per game.
Plus, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden loves the running game. Quarterback Derek Carr gets most of the attention on offense, but the Raiders are running the ball early and often, averaging 134.4 yards per game on the ground (No. 8 in the NFL) and running the ball 27.6 times per game (12th).
Carr told Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle this week that he’s loving the emphasis on the ground game. He sounds happy to hand the ball off to Jacobs against the Packers Sunday.
"(The running game has) helped me in the pass game also," said Carr. "We’re getting big chunk plays, 20- or 30-yard chunk plays every now and then off these play-actions, which is huge. Our bootlegs are better because of our run game. Everything is based off that."
Still, oddsmakers favor Green Bay by 4½ to 5 points. Kickoff is set for 10 a.m.