2nd Place in AFC West
Last Game: Win at Baltimore Ravens (3-1) 28-27
Next Game: vs. San Diego Chargers (1-3), Sunday, October 9th at 4:25 pm EST
The Raiders did it again. Derek Carr did it again. Michael Crabtree, damned if he didn’t do it again.
This team, with a mix of youthful talent and veteran savvy, got it done on the road in a 1:00 pm start for the THIRD time in four games to start the season, and now own a 3-0 road record and a 3-1 record overall.
The Raiders have not been out of any game this season, and were ahead comfortably in Baltimore until two disastrous plays — a missed tackle by the usually great David Amerson and a fumble by rookie DeAndre Washington — turned the tide of the game.
Raider teams of the past would’ve folded the tent after the fumble, and the game may have ended up 35-21. But not this team. Not Jack Del Rio. Not Derek Carr.
Carr is quickly becoming one of the most clutch players in the NFL. He has 6 fourth quarter comebacks since the beginning of 2015 — the most in the NFL. He’s done it three times already this season. The Raiders always have a chance to win with No. 4 under center.
Although they have a budding superstar in Amari Cooper at receiver, it’s been “old man” Michael Crabtree — who’s only 29 folks! -– who has been Carr’s go-to guy and most reliable target this season.
Crabtree secured the game-winning two-point conversion against the Saints in Week 1, made one clutch first-down catch after another against the Titans in Week 3, and then absolutely owned Shareece Wright and the Ravens secondary this past Sunday.
Crab leads the team in targets, catches, TDs and first downs. He’s tied for the NFL lead with 4 receiving TDs. The man makes a play every time he catches it, and has suction-cup hands that catch the ball if it’s anywhere near him. His leadership and attitude have been superb, and he’s a big part of the love-fest Carr and the players are having with each other.
The Raiders come home this weekend for their first divisional tilt against the Chargers, who have found interesting and creative ways to lose very late leads in all their losses.
The Chargers dominated the Raiders in the early 2000’s. From 2003-2009, they beat them 13 straight times. THIRTEEN.
However, the Raiders have evened the score in the 2010’s, and the teams are even at 6-6. The Raiders swept the Chargers last year, and are hungry to keep their recent success going.
The defense, after struggling the first two weeks, is beginning to take shape by adding rookies Cory James and Karl Joseph to the starting lineup. This team is rounding into form and ready to come home.
The Chargers roster is decimated with injuries in this early season. They’ve just been struck again: their best cornerback, Jason Verrett, is out for the season with partially torn ACL.
Their second-best corner, Brandon Flowers, will likely be out with a concussion. Carr could have a field day this weekend. Start your Raiders in fantasy, folks.
With the Falcons coming into Denver boasting the #1 offense, the Broncos will have their stiffest challenge of the season to date. The Chargers have played well at times this season but cannot keep consistency, and have lost games to the previously winless Saints and Colts. The Chiefs are on a bye week.
So for the AFC West teams, that leaves the Raiders as having the best chance to win this weekend, in their first game at home this season, and at least keep pace with Denver, if not pull into a tie. Being in sole possession of second place, even early, is still sweet.