Derek Carr and Matthew Stafford rank among the top 10 quarterbacks in the league in multiple statistical categories this season.
But the numbers are not always adding up to victories.
Carr's Oakland Raiders and Stafford's Detroit Lions are both trying to turn mediocre starts into a playoff run. They'll face each other at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Sunday, which marks the end of a whirlwind road trip for the Raiders, a five-game trek to Minnesota, Indianapolis, Green Bay, Houston, and a so-called home game in London. Oakland went 2-3 during that run, including beating the NFC North division Bears in England.
But the Raiders have lost two games since their bye to drop below .500 at 3-4. The Lions snapped a three-game losing streak by downing the New York Giants on Sunday to reach the .500 mark at 3-3-1.
"There's a lot of teams in this league right now that are just hanging on," Oakland coach Jon Gruden said.
The performance of the quarterbacks hasn't been a hindrance for either franchise.
Carr has completed 72.1 percent of his passes, including 11 touchdowns, compared to four interceptions. Stafford has connected on 64.4 percent of his throws with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Stafford's passer rating of 105.3 ranks sixth in the league with Carr (103.6) right behind him.
Carr threw a season-high three touchdowns against Houston on Sunday, but the Raiders still left with a 27-24 loss. The Raiders have been especially proficient on third-down conversions, ranking third in the league at 48.8 percent.
This week, Carr will be facing a pass defense that ranks last in the league at 289.5 yards per game.
"He's making a lot of checks and audibles at the line of scrimmage," Detroit coach Matt Patricia said. "There are some guys out there making some big plays for him. (Tight end Darren) Waller is a huge catch-radius guy. He goes up and makes a lot of plays for them. (Wide receiver Tyrell) Williams is another guy when he's singled up on the back side makes a lot plays for them."
Williams caught one of those scoring passes against the Texans after missing the previous two games with a foot injury. He's hauled in a touchdown in each of his five games this season.
Rookie running back Josh Jacobs is averaging 5.0 yards per carry and has scored four rushing touchdowns.
"The thing that jumps off the tape very quickly when you watch him is how aggressive a runner he is," Patricia said. "He's going to bring it to the tackler. He's not going to wait to be tackled. He's going to attack the defender and try to get those tough extra yards."
Detroit's rushing game is in a state of flux. Top back Kerryon Johnson was placed on IR with a knee injury two weeks ago. The Lions are using the combination of Tra Carson, Ty Johnson and J.D. McKissic to replace him. The team was reportedly rebuffed in bids to add another running back -- including Falcons starter Devonta Freeman -- at the trade deadline Tuesday.
Not having a bell-cow back places even more of a burden on Stafford, but he's been up to the task. Stafford completed all 12 of his second-half passes in the 31-26 win over the Giants. He's thrown seven touchdown passes in the last two games.
That's bad news for a struggling Raiders pass defense, which is giving up an average of 285.3 yards and has allowed 19 touchdowns.
Gruden said in reviewing film of Stafford he can see the veteran passer is "feeling it right now."
Opponents have scored an average of 32.8 points in the Raiders' losses.
"We get the momentum going and then we can't seem to put all three phases together," Gruden said. "It's too bad, but we need to get some turnovers from our defense, three-and-out stops and better field position, certainly. It'll come."
--Field Level Media