I know. I know. It’s September. There is no such thing as a must win this early in the NFL season…or is there?
There is if you started the season 0-1. Typically teams that win on opening weekend have a statistically increased chance of making the playoffs.
There is definitely such a thing as a must win in September if you’re the Raiders and after today’s tussle in Miami you take on Pittsburgh, then travel to Denver and later head out to Atlanta.
And there is most certainly an increased sense of urgency when you realize that teams who begin the season 0-2 almost always find themselves watching football on the couch come January.
Today’s showdown in South Beach is as close to a must win as the Raiders will have this season. Let’s not kid ourselves. The Raiders’ season is already showing symptoms of unraveling. An 0-2 start would only add insult to a week filled with injury.
Let’s also not pretend like the Dolphins are among the NFL elite. Obviously this is still a team of professionals. It’s also a team building around a rookie QB in Ryan Tannehill. Last week the Raiders failed to intimidate an inexperienced rookie in Chargers left tackle Mike Harris. Now thy get a chance to show they’re learning from their mistakes.
When it comes to mistakes Dennis Allen made one of the all-time rookie mistakes in his failure to have a backup long snapper ready to go. Let’s hope he’s learned about the importance of details in the NFL.
Let’s also hope Coach Allen can instill a sense of urgency in his team today. All is not lost with an 0-2 start but nothing can be gained by having to play from behind this early in the season. Today could easily determine the difference between playing for pride or the playoffs. Make no mistake. This is a must win scenario and Oakland must know that. Otherwise they must be fooling themselves into thinking time is on their side. It isn’t. Not when only 12% of 0-2 teams make the playoffs. And certainly not when you look at what’s coming up in the schedule.