Things sure do change quickly in the NFL. One year ago the Raiders couldn’t be beaten in the AFC West. One month ago Hue Jackson was a confident genius.
One year later the Raiders can’t seem to buy a win against their divisional rivals. One month later Coach Jackson is now being hailed as cocky and controlling.
No matter the exact circumstances of how the Raiders enter Thursday’s game in San Diego there is only one result that will suffice.
It is win or bust time in Oakland. Two straight home losses to AFC West foes have put the Raiders in a dire situation only halfway through the season. Simply put this team cannot afford to drop another game to their primary competition.
The wild AFC West is as wide open as Eric Decker being covered by Michael Huff. No thanks to all three teams that could have taken the division by the horns losing on Sunday we’re suddenly looking at a race there for the taking.
Don’t look now but even the Denver Tebows are only one game out of contention.
Now the current state of the division is surprising only in the sense that no team is above .500. You would have thought the Raiders would have the best shot to be 5-3 at the midpoint. But when you spend an entire week overlooking the Broncos that is what happens.
There was once a time when it was the Chargers and everybody else in the AFC West. But when Philip Rivers is tossing picks at a Carson Palmer rate and Norv Turner is still employed as a head coach you can generally expect underachievement.
Despite San Diego’s lackluster showing this season they still remain Oakland’s toughest test to date. Forget about all the non-divisional foes the Raiders have faced and beaten, they need to take care of business in their division.
Funny how the exact opposite of last season is proving true.
Last season the Raiders owned the division, yet were easy prey outside it. This season they’re finding life a little more difficult versus their rivals.
Now a loss on Thursday doesn’t mean the season is over. Just as a win doesn’t mean anything more than getting a crack of daylight between the Raiders and the rest of the division (well…for a couple days at least).
However losing would mean the team will need help going forward. That loss against Denver keeps looming larger as Oakland could have controlled their fate.
But at this point you can’t get caught looking back. As the Raiders also learned Sunday you can’t get caught looking too far forward. One game a week from here out…each is a must win. Thursday is just the first.