Raiders struggles a pattern -- not aberration

 

If you were on the fence about the Oakland Raiders struggles before Monday's 31-10 loss at Denver, there should be no confusion now.

            There is simply no way possible to make this one look good.

            The notion of "Super Bowl hangover" seems to be the convenient reason for the Raiders continued. That viewpoint may have its merit because Oakland has certainly not looked like the team that has been a serious contender in the AFC since Tampa Bay blew out Oakland 48-21 last January.

            The Raiders looked progressively worse in going 1-3 in the exhibition season but that can be dismissed because preseason games mean zilch. Oakland, however, is 1-3 in its last four meaningful games with two of those defeats coming in convincing fashion. Since beating Tennessee 41-24 in the AFC Title Game, the Raiders elevator has gone from good to bad without even stopping at mediocre.

While the term "blowout loss" may be a subjective term, for the sake of discussion let's say 20 or more points. One such loss might be an aberration but two in four games? That is a definite pattern. Since the Raiders began their run of winning three straight AFC West titles in 2000, the Raiders largest margin of defeat was 28-13 at St. Louis last season.

Even worse than the extent of the losses, the Raiders are flat-out getting exposed. Oakland gained 195 total yards of offense but 121 came in the second half, when the game was out of reach. The Raiders ineffective offense is also leading to the defense's demise. Oakland's defense was equally terrible in stopping the run (190) and pass (193) Monday.

Conventional wisdom suggests that the season is still early with Oakland sitting at 1-2 entering Sunday's home game against San Diego. The problem is that September games count on the schedule just like December contests. The Raiders, meanwhile, are two games behind Kansas City and Denver (both 3-0).

Can Oakland save its season?

Mathmatically, anything is possible realistically the Raiders have a lot of work to do. The good news is that Oakland's next three games are winnable, San Diego at home followed by Chicago and Cleveland on the road. Those teams are a combined 1-8.

But unless the Raiders start improving, it won't matter who the opposition is.

 Vince D'Adamo can be reached at vdad7@yahoo.com


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