No matter how this season ends for the Oakland Raiders there will be plenty of second guessing. Should Oakland have simply allowed Nnamdi Asomugha to walk away so easily? Was trading for Carson Palmer good for the future or a knee-jerk reaction to now? Did late collapses against Buffalo and Detroit ultimately doom the season?
All of these questions and more won’t have a true answer or at least an honest debate until all the dust has settled.
What is undeniable is that the Raiders are facing two must-wins against two rivals in order to even hope of being in the postseason.
On Saturday the Raiders head to Arrowhead looking to avenge one of the worst losses of the season. Suddenly the Chiefs are in the AFC West mix so this game means as much to KC as it does Oakland.
Having put a short, holiday week, behind them the silver and black return home to take on the Chargers on a New Year’s Day finale. If the stage is set properly there is a good chance the AFC West crown could be determined by this contest.
Of course the Raiders will also need help along the way. But those are scenarios not even Hue Jackson is considering. Coach knows his team has to win to have any chance. That is the reality this team is faced with after three straight losses at the absolute worst time in the season.
Never mind how the Raiders got into this scenario. That is something best left to discuss at another day. All that matters is the task at hand. With everything to play for the Raiders must make each snap an opportunity to move closer to accomplishing their team goals.
Somehow this seems the only way the season could have ended. All year long the Raiders have needed some form of motivation to get their bullying nature to shine through. Be it the passing of Al Davis or the need to end a losing streak, something has gotten this team to dig deep at opportune times.
Now is as good a time as any for this franchise to finally complete its turnaround.
Consecutive wins will put the Raiders in playoff contention and will further the improvement that highlighted hope last season.
Consecutive losses will keep the franchise mired in mediocrity as the rebuilding effort slowly crawls along.
Either way there is more than enough drama to go around in the AFC West. If Oakland wants to add to that drama they’ll need to do what Mr. Davis demands of all his teams: Just win, baby!