The Oakland Raiders are a .500 ball club. No, I haven’t forgotten that they boast of a record with 3 wins against 2 losses. Yes, I can do the math. That equates to a winning percentage of .600, which would indicate that they’re not a .500 team.
Yet they are.
If form holds true then come Sunday night the Raiders will be back to .500 yet again. That’s how this roller coaster season has gone. In fact this goes all the way back to last season when the Raiders finished as a .500 club. If you really want to do some digging then go back to those consistently inconsistent .500 years prior to Jon Gruden’s arrival. Chucky helped the team to take the next step. Can Hue Jackson do the same but in a shorter amount of time? That remains to be seen.
What we have seen is the following: A win, followed by a loss, followed by a win, followed by a loss. That is the pattern and that is the tendency this team bust break in order to finally breakout.
Standing between Oakland and a town called Consistency is Cleveland. Ironically the Browns are a .500 club. Some are calling this a trap game for the Raiders but that is being far too dismissive of Cleveland. This game is no more a trap than last week was in Houston, or the week before that against the Pats.
Simply put the Raiders aren’t in a position to fall into any trap. All there is right now on the schedule is opportunity. How Coach Jackson and his team embrace the chance to gain a little momentum will be seen Sunday.
Emotions will still be running high as we’re just one week removed from the sudden passing of Al Davis. Sunday will mark Oakland’s first home game without Mr. Davis but his presence will still be felt. In addition to the tribute that will be paid to football’s most iconic owner there is the continued hope that Al will be the 11th man on the field as he was last week when Michael Huff hauled in victory.
In order to beat Cleveland the Raiders must stay true to what has worked on offense while taking a stand on defense. The Browns don’t boast of a roster filled with playmakers but in a close contest one man can make a difference. That one man could easily be Peyton Hillis.
While Sunday will be a reunion between Hillis and his Arkansas teammate Darren McFadden, it will also be another running back duel that could decide the outcome. The Browns have promised to make more use of Hillis. That seems obvious but hasn’t quite been the case this year as Hillis and the Browns have entered a bit of a contract cold war in the middle of the season.
Last week McFadden got the right to point to the scoreboard while Arian Foster took the fantasy crown.
But what difference does that make when all you’re trying to do is just win, baby?
McFadden was enough of a factor to aid in the win but Oakland might need more production to pound the Browns. Cleveland quietly has put together one of the better defenses in the NFL and can really get after the passer.
On the other hand the Raiders have applied pressure to plenty of passers but their secondary hasn’t been able to cover long enough to make those QB pressures become QB sacks more often. Colt McCoy isn’t known as a passing threat but against the Raiders and their rotating cornerback combinations he could have a much bigger day.
This is one of those contests that could easily go the route of a blowout or another close call. In that case both teams also have weapons on special teams that could factor in heavily. Joshua Cribbs is one of the great threats in the return game while Sebastian Janiskowski is becoming an all-time threat as kicking weapon. Between Jano’s mega leg and Cribbs’ crippling speed and agility this game could be either won or lost.
No matter the outcome Sunday will be about paying respect to Mr. Davis. Now if the Raiders really want to honor their owner then only one result will suffice.
Just win, baby!
Tags: Al Davis, Oakland Raiders, Raider Nation, Fans, Popular, Featured Arian Foster Cleveland Browns Colt McCoy Darren McFadden Hue Jackson Jon Gruden Josh Cribbs Michael Huff Oakland Raiders Peyton Hillis Sebastian Janikowski