The Raiders (6-4), however, are less likely to fall into that trap than earlier this season. The last time Oakland prepared to play such a game was October 13th when it visited St. Louis.
The Raiders walked into town with a 4-0 record like a sheriff firing both six-shooters to face a Rams team that was 0-5. Blowout win for Oakland, right? Well, something strange happened that day. They played the game and the Rams beat Oakland 28-13 to start their current five-game winning streak. That loss sent the Raiders into a tailspin of four straight losses before recovering to win their last two games.
These two teams met last year in Oakland when the Raiders looked like it was sailing along with an 8-2 record with 6-5 Denver as their closest pursuer. Arizona entered the game on a two-game winning streak but with a 4-6 record. The Cards left Oakland with a 34-31 overtime win that sent the Raiders into a funk of losing four of their last six regular season games.
Things are somewhat similar to last year.
Arizona has a 4-6 mark but with four consecutive losses has dropped to third place in the NFC West behind San Francisco (7-3) and St. Louis (5-5). Unlike last year, however, the Raiders are not leading the pack. Denver and San Diego are both 7-3, which makes it imperative that Oakland cannot sleepwalk its way through Sunday's game.
"If it was a situation where we had a couple game lead, going to Arizona, the guys might get a little frisky," Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown said. "But we have our own situation to deal with and there's nothing to relax about."
In addition, the most desperate teams often respond with a victory in the parity-filled NFL.
"It's a game of concern and caution," Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon said. "We saw how the Rams responded after losing five in a row."