The Silver & Black welcome the AFC West-leading Chiefs to Oakland this Sunday
Halloween was this past Sunday, and it appears as if the Raiders dressed up as a playoff team. After two straight weeks of dominating football, Raider fans are collectively scratching their heads thinking aloud, “Are we really this good?”
The answer is, “No.” However, to be a playoff team this year, how good do you have to be? It’s still a bit sad that this team is so excited about being 4-4. I think that’s the real barometer of how far this team has fallen. When a team is 4-4, and you start making plans for Cowboys Stadium in February, you’ve lost a sense of reality.
Let’s recap. The Raiders opened the season by getting destroyed in Nashville. They were as out-of-sorts as Motorhead would be at the Grand Ole Opry. Chris Johnson ran all over them like mascara on a sweaty Britney Spears.
They came home to play the Rams. At halftime, the off-season’s biggest acquisition, Quarterback Jason Campbell, was benched. Bruce Gradkowski came on, and led them to a lackluster 16-14 win. It was about as thrilling as beating your 6-year old sister in a game of Boggle.
Then came the debacle in Arizona. Down a point late in a game they had pretty much dominated, the Raiders appeared to be on the verge of getting a last second win when Gradkowski drove them deep into Arizona territory. But it wasn’t in the cards against the Cards. Seabass missed the chip shot, and Oakland was 1-2 and going home, but heading nowhere.
In front of only 32,218 fans, the Raiders were once again thoroughly outplayed, as the Texans did more running at the Coliseum than Rickey Henderson ever could have imagined. A 31-24 loss in a game that wasn’t really that close, and the Raiders were now 1-3. Worse than being just out-played, they were being out-muscled. It was like the guy on the beach kicking sand in your face, and you finally decide, “Enough!” and you stand up to the bully, only to have him push you back down, kick sand in your face again, eat your lunch, steal your girlfriend, and ride home on your bike.
The next week, Gradkowski got hurt against the Chargers, and Campbell came off the bench to lead the Raiders to two long-scoring drives. Still, up 28-27 late in the 4th, San Diego had the ball, and was driving for a potential game-winning field goal when Michael Huff made the play of his career–which isn’t saying much, since prior to that, his best play had been being run over by opposing running backs. With the game on the line, Head Coach Tom Cable blitzed on just about every down, and Huff got to Phillip Rivers, forcing a fumble. Tyvon Branch scooped up the loose ball, and 64 yards later he was in the end zone, and the Raiders had an exhilarating 35-27 win.
At 2-3, the Raiders were hoping to even their record against their cross-town rivals in San Francisco. Gradkowski was still out, and Campbell played arguably the worst game I’ve ever seen a quarterback play. It was like he had taken 3 Tylenol PM’s the night prior, and kickoff was at 7 a.m. In a game they should have won, the Raiders lost 17-9, and headed back home across the Bridge to Nowhere.
With the season hanging in the balance, the Silver and Black headed to Denver, and let’s just say, something magical happened. 59 points later, Oakland was a mile high in the Rocky Mountains after destroying the Broncos.
With another chance to get to .500 and win two games in a row for the first time since Al Davis last said something that made sense, the Raiders hosted the Seattle Seahawks.
The defense played great. The offense played great. The special teams were outstanding. Raiders 33, Seahawks 3.
So that brings us to this Sunday. A home game against the division-leading Chiefs. A win and the Raiders go into the bye week with a winning record of 5-4. A loss and they say goodbye to any chance of winning the division.
With losses to Arizona and San Francisco, the Raiders have proven that they can play down to the level of their competition. Can they play up a level is the real question.