It was supposed to the AFC West Super Bowl. Four weeks ago the Raiders-Chiefs finale was shaping up to be a rivalry for all the marbles. This was supposed to be a winner-take-all duel with more than bragging rights at stake.
Well, it is still a duel with bragging rights on the line. Too bad for the Raiders the Chiefs have already claimed the crown and the playoff birth that comes with it. Still, there is much more to play for than pride in Arrowhead on Sunday.
Tom Cable has proven himself to be the best coach in the East Bay since Jon Gruden. Not saying much when all it took was seven wins to lay claim to that statement. The true value in Cable’s accomplishments can be traced to how he’s changed the recent Raider culture and won the locker room over. Call him the anti-Bill Callahan.
None the less, when you’re calling shots for Al Davis that seat is always warm. One loss to the Chiefs shouldn’t end Cable’s reign. But if there are any doubts he’s the coach for the future then a win is a must.
Make no mistake, jobs are on the line every week in the NFL and this week is no different. This is a last chance to make a first impression for many players too.
Jason Campbell’s roller coaster ride of a season is in dire need of punctuation. JC might have Al’s support but that will only last so long if he continues to swing from Jim Plunkett to JaMarcus Russell week in a week out. Certainly Campbell is the best QB currently on the roster. However, if he’s going to be the man going forward then he’ll have to show more consistency.
For those that have job security there is still much more to play for as well.
Darren McFadden was unfairly snubbed from the Pro Bowl. To begin the New Year he’ll return to the stadium where he accomplished the first 100-yard game of his career. As a rookie, Run DMC showed the world a glimpse of what was possible as he ran all over Arrowhead. When this season began many were saying that it would be the lone 100-yard effort of his career.
How ya like McFadden now?
This season he’s proven himself to be among the most dynamic playmakers in all of football. But there is some added motivation for McFadden this Sunday. The man that was picked ahead of him – Jamaal Charles – will be standing on the other sideline. Run DMC will have a chance to prove to the football world why he should be headed to Hawaii over Charles.
But these are all individual goals. For the team this is much more than another rivalry game. This is a shot at perfection. Albeit the most indifferent perfection ever accomplished in the modern NFL.
A win Sunday would give the Raiders a perfect 6-0 record in the AFC West. Had Oakland taken care of business outside the division it would be the Chiefs on the outside looking in. Still, there is something to be said for setting a goal and accomplishing it. In camp Cable had his men wearing shirts saying they were going to win the division. While the record book will always show the Chiefs as champs, you can’t argue with perfection. Oakland has owned their primary competition in 2010 so it only makes since to begin 2011 on the same foot.
This Sunday is not only about pride. It is about so much more. Still, there is only one reason to play the game. Right, Herm? Therefore there is only one mantra that need be uttered to start the New Year.
Just win, baby!