Is the bye week rest or rust? The Oakland Raiders are faced with that situation this weekend. While the rest of the NFL is playing the Raiders, along with Jacksonville, Baltimore and Pittsburgh have a bye week.
Oakland does not play until September 29th at home against Tennessee. This marks the earliest bye week since the team returned to Oakland in 1995 from Los Angeles.
In the Raiders' case, perhaps open dates are rest. Since that method was implemented in the 1990 season, the Raiders are 8-4. Oakland is 5-2 after a bye week since returning from Los Angeles.
Oakland followed its bye week in 2001 with one of its more impressive wins of the season. The Raiders beat Philadelphia 20-10 on the road in a game they dominated more than the final score suggested.
Now, the timing may not be so good after two impressive victories: 31-17 over Seattle at home and 30-17 over Pittsburgh on the road. The Raiders showed impressive versatility in rushing for 221 yards against Seattle and Rich Gannon passed for 403 yards against the Steelers.
Time off would appear to be the last thing the Raiders need at this juncture. On the plus side, the week off gives starting right guard Mo Collins and punter Shane Lechler an additional week to heal. Collins has been sidelined with a knee injury while Lechler has been shelved with a quad injury. Both individuals are likely going to return against Tennessee whereas neither might have played this week if the Raiders had a game.
In addition, Oakland has two weeks to prepare for a club that it has lost to three consecutive games to, dating back to 1997. The Raiders also have more time to figure out a way to slow down Tennessee running back Eddie George. Granted, Oakland held him to 23 yards on 11 carries in last season's 13-10 loss but George was hampered the entire season but a foot injury. George rushed for 415 yards on 39 carries in two previous games against the Raiders.