The Oakland Raiders were one of those teams that was projected to compete aggressively for a Super Bowl appearance when the season began. Two weeks into the season that projection looked correct as the Raiders handled the Titans in Week 1 by winning 26-16 and followed that up by appropriately trouncing the New York Jets 45-20 in Week 2.
The Raiders looked like they would literally dance their way to the playoffs, as Marshawn Lynch showed on the sidelines during their Week 2 victory. They faced the Washington Redskins on the road for a Sunday Night Football matchup, one which the majority of analysts and fans alike considered an Oakland win before the game even started.
Oakland seemed surprised by Washington’s performance, and they were promptly handed their first loss of the season, with the final score of 27-10 in favor of the Redskins. Most wrote it off as a Washington win more than an Oakland loss, contesting that the Redskins just wanted it more, and that the Raiders would perform to a much higher degree and attempt to right the ship in their Week 4 matchup with the always tough Denver Broncos. The Week 4 game in the mile-high city was a defensive showdown as predicted. But despite Oakland’s defense going blow for blow with Denver’s “no fly zone” secondary, the offense failed to capitalize for the majority of the game. Matters weren’t helped at all when Oakland lost Derek Carr to a back injury in the 4th quarter and with backup QB E.J. Manuel at the reins the Raiders offense faltered and they lost 16-10, falling to 2-2 on the season and heading into an uncertain future with their star QB injured.
Losing Derek Carr for any amount of time is catastrophic to a team that relies heavily on their passing attack with high-end receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and capable tight end Jared Cook. So having a roughly below average QB who’s in his first season with the team thrusted into a starting role just five weeks into a season is more than unsettling for a playoff hopeful team. As expected, the Raiders woes continued in Week 5 as their Derek Carr-less offense compiled another meager outing as they lost to the Baltimore Ravens 30-17, their 3rd consecutive loss.
Despite technically suffering a broken back in Week 4, Derek Carr worked his tail off and surprisingly started and completed their Week 6 bout with the Los Angeles Chargers, it was however a losing effort. As Philip Rivers and co. pulled off a rare close victory over the Raiders in Oakland. Something they haven’t done since October of 2014. When the Raiders lost 13-6 and fell to 0-10 with rookie QB Derek Carr, with Latavius Murray, Darren McFadden, and Maurice Jones-Drew all seeing carries in the game.
This Oakland offense is just too talented to be stopped consistently. They’re a group you can only hope to contain long enough to take advantage of their sometimes mediocre defense. But with injuries to important positions and some lackluster effort from the offensive line, it’s understandable that this team is 2-4 through six games.
Derek Carr gets a short week to heal his back, and their defense needs to rip a page out of the Pittsburgh Steelers “how to beat the Kansas City Chiefs” book to have any hope of containing breakout stars Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt.
Meanwhile, the offense will need to live and die by Marshawn Lynch’s legs, as he’s failed to see 20 carries in a game yet this season. Six weeks should be long enough to break off any rust from a year of retirement and if the Raiders didn’t plan on using him more often than why sign him to a three-year contract? He’s a workhorse and is at his best when he’s given the rock and told to run until his skittles rush subsides.
The Oakland Raiders are in dire straights. They desperately need a win to stay afloat amidst arguably the toughest division in football. But all this team needs is consistency. If they let beast mode be beast mode, let Cooper and Crabtree be the top wide receiver tandem they’re capable of being, and hope to get solid efficiency out of their offensive line, this team could be 4-5 or possibly 5-4 going into their Week 10 bye, and should they be able to overcome adversity from there. Oakland has Kansas City at home for a Thursday night showdown, then travels to Buffalo and Miami before their bye week. It’s not impossible to make the playoffs after a 2-4 start, but it’ll be a tough hill to climb for Oakland, who was originally deemed a top three AFC team and solid playoff contender just a month ago.
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