The Oakland Raiders are running out of weeks to be able and pull off what every NFL fan believed to be the impossible, which is for the Raiders to be playing in January. After a terrific start through the first half of the season and having sole possession of the 5th seed in the AFC at one point, the Raiders have lost 3 consecutive games.
Everything seemed to be going in the right direction after their convincing win over the New York Jets. Now even though they lost a heart-breaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers the following week, Raider nation still had all the belief in the world that their team would be able to bounce back. However, lets now fast forward three weeks later shall we? Oakland fans have the right to be upset for the way their team has performed the past couple of weeks.
It has been a completely different silver and black team than the one we had been accustomed to watching for the first 8 weeks of the season. Derek Carr was looking like a player who should be considered in the MVP discussion, Amari Cooper was looking like the best receiver in the league and the never aging Charles Woodson looked as though he could still play 10 more years. Now the Raiders are going to have to start doing everything they can to try and stay relevant for the final 6 weeks of the season.
Following their defeat against the Steelers the Raiders were 4-4. That record in itself exceeded many people’s expectations. Many even began talking about the playoffs, especially considering the fact that their schedule for the next few weeks was in their favor. Unfortunately for Raider nation, they have not lived up to all the hype.
In week 9 the Raiders hosted a dangerous Minnesota Vikings team, with an opportunity to show the league that they are for real and get over .500 once again. They played somewhat of a descent game but the offense never seemed to gain any rhythm. Some may say the absence of Rodney Hudson had an affect but the absence of a player should never be an excuse, especially when fighting for a playoff spot.
Overall, the Raiders didn’t come ready to play against the Vikings. Carr had one of his worst performances of the season by throwing 2 costly interceptions. Sure the silver and black missed out on a great opportunity at home, but by no means meant they were out of the playoff picture. The silver lining being that their next two opponents had a combined record of 4-14 in the Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans. So don’t worry Raider nation, everything will be alright. At least I thought it would be.
With a chance to get back to .500 and stay in the mix of all the playoff drama, the Raiders headed on the road to Detroit to face a Lions team who were coming off an upset win on the road against the Green Bay Packers. Nonetheless, this looked like an easy win for Oakland to try and bounce back from a two game skid. Ultimately this was the worst the Raiders have looked since week 1.
The defense did all it could to keep the team in the game. But when Cooper is only targeted four times with one reception, as a fan you know that the offense is in need of improvement. After trailing 9-0 at the half, the Raiders came out looking like a different team in the third quarter. Latavius Murray cut the lead after capping their first second half possession with a 1-yard touchdown run. Sebastian Janikowski gave Oakland the lead with a 48-yard field goal. He later extended the lead with a 56-yard kick. Too bad that was the only quarter the Raider offense felt like playing in.
The Raiders took a 13-9 lead into the 4th quarter and it looked as if they were going to find a way and steal the game. The Lions clearly were looking like the better team. Consequently, they proved that in the final quarter by scoring 9 unanswered points and giving them the win by the score of 18-13. Detroit is last in the league running the ball, but that didn’t prevent Matthew Stafford by capping off an 80-yard drive with a designed run of his own from 5-yards out and giving his team the lead. Talk about irony for the Oakland Raiders.
I was excited for this football team and what they can possibly achieve for the rest of the season, but the way they came out and played the past couple of weeks, they might as well just begin to look forward to next season. I even went as far as predicting the Raiders to attain one of the two wild card spots and make the playoffs this season. However, if you can’t beat up on teams that you’re suppose to beat, there’s no way you’ll be able to rack up enough wins to clinch a playoff spot.
Moving forward the Raiders will need plenty of help from other teams to get back into the race but they will have to take care of their own business first and foremost. Next week is another winnable game for the silver and black. They travel to Tennessee to face an improving Titans team who lost a close one to the Jacksonville Jaguars last Thursday.
The Raiders are barely holding on to any playoff aspirations they may still have and I’m still sticking to my prediction for them to grab the last wild card spot. Looking at the rest of their schedule they are certainly capable of winning out and finishing at least 9-7. However, if they don’t leave Tennessee with a win, Raider nation will have to wait another year to try and end their long and dreadful playoff drought.