Hard Times for Raiders

Like the Browns (and last week's opponent in Kansas City), the Raiders are struggling...

For the second straight week, the Browns are facing a team with a proud tradition that has fallen on really hard times.

Last Sunday, it was the Kansas City Chiefs. This Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, it's the Oakland Raiders.

These aren't, by any means, your father's Raiders that used to be at, or near, the top of the NFL nearly every year. They've become a polar opposite of that.

They are 5-9 and have already assured themselves of finishing with a losing record for the seventh straight season. Not only that, but if they don't win another game, they will have failed to exceed five victories for the seventh year in a row.

In 2002, the Raiders, finishing 11-5 and scoring an NFL-high 450 points, won the AFC West for the third straight year and made it to the Super Bowl for the fifth time, getting walloped by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-21. Since then, it's been a disaster.

The Raiders tied the San Diego Chargers for last place in the division in 2003 at 4-12.

They had the cellar all to themselves in 2004 at 5-11.

At 4-12, they were last again in 2005.

They bottomed out in 2006 with a league-worst 2-14 record.

It wasn't much better in 2007, as they were 4-12 and tied with the Chiefs for last in the West.

They escaped the cellar for the first time in six years in 2008 with a 5-11 record, putting them three games in front of the Chiefs (2-14).

That makes the Raiders' record over the last seven years 26-84 (.236). Al Davis, The only owner the Raiders have had in their 50-season existence, must be getting sick to his stomach.

This year, the Raiders are two games in front of the Chiefs (3-11) with two to play, so last place is still within their reach. But for that to happen, they'll have to fall off their recent pace in which they've won two of the last three and three of the last five.

Don't let that fool you, though, for this is a bad, bad Oakland team.

They've had their moments, to be sure, and they've been big ones for the most part, with victories over division leaders Philadelphia (13-9) and Cincinnati (20-17), and playoff contenders Denver (20-19 last week) and Pittsburgh (27-24). But for the most part, they've been disastrous, losing 23-3 to the Broncos, 29-6 to the Houston Texans, 44-7 to the New York Giants, 38-0 to the New York Jets and 24-7 to the Dallas Cowboys.

So they've won once by one points, three times by three points (they also beat Kansas City by three, 13-10), and once by four points once – not exactly overwhelming margins. However, they've lost by 38 points, 37, 23, 20 and 17 – not exactly nail-biters.

They've been outscored by more than a 2-to-1 margin over the first three quarters of their games this year, 327 points to 157.

Early in the season, they had three games in a row when they scored a combined total of 16 points.

They've tallied scored just 16 touchdowns, 20 less than their opponents, and have amassed 195 first downs, or 87 less than their foes.

Their quarterbacks, including former Browns Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye, have completed just 50.4 percent of their passes for nine touchdowns and 14 interceptions for a 60.5 rating.

They've had 23 more penalties than the opposition, and 176 more penalty yards.

The Raiders' slogan, which is always used throughout the team's media guide and press releases, is "Commitment to excellence." But that's outdated. That was back in the day, when the Raiders were one of the teams to beat in the NFL. Now they're just one of the teams that get beaten down regularly. As such, their new mantra should be, "Commitment to mediocrity."

And boy, are the Raiders committed.

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