Given the most favorable of odds, the Oakland Raiders failed to step up and take advantage. How could the offense — despite struggling the last four weeks — not take it to a Los Angeles Chargers team equipped with one of the league’s worst defenses?
Absolutely mind-boggling, no? Count me as perplexed.
Yet, funny things happen gamedays. Even the Football Gods love a good laugh once in awhile. Well, more like bowed over, finger pointing and heaving with hysterical laughter, actually. Prep yourselves for another laugher Thursday night. And it will be the Raiders cackling.
How else can you explain the hapless rising to the occasion? This past Monday was a prime example, the previously winless, injury-riddled and hobbling New York Giants applying a Mile High 23-10 beatdown on the heavily-favored Denver Broncos.
And here the Raiders are, unable to grab susceptible opponents by the throat and squeeze, with the “superior” 5-1 Kansas City Chiefs in town for a Thursday night AFC West primetime clash.
Odds are definitely stacked in Kansas City’s favor: fantastic head coach (Andy Reid), a top-three offense at his disposal, a destroyer of a rookie running back (Kareem Hunt), a quarterback who owns Oakland (Alex Smith is 9-1 in his career against the Raiders) and a blur of a wide receiver and special teamer (Tyreek Hill). The Chiefs have downed the Raiders five-straight times with a 21-13 Thursday night victory last December as the latest chapter in KC’s ownage.
This game has massacre written all over it, no? However, the tilt has the elements of a Silver & Black surprise. And no, it’s not because of NaVorro Bowman (although he is a nice veteran addition to a linebacker unit sorely missing the “kick-ass” savvy).
Desperation can be the greatest form of motivation. “There’s no help coming, the cavalry is not coming,” Raiders cornerback TJ Carrie said after this past Sunday’s loss. “We are the cavalry.”
At 2-4 overall, Oakland’s playoff hopes hinge on winning Thursday, even though no Raider will admit it.
“You want to go out there and beat one of the best teams in football. We have them coming to our place on a short week. So all the challenges are there,” quarterback Derek Carr said.
“Everything is pushing our back against the wall, but one thing I know we’re going to do is we’re going to come out on Thursday night and fight. We’re definitely excited to have them come into our place this week.”
“We’re defined by how we conduct ourselves, how we carry on in the face of adversity,” head coach Jack Del Rio added. “It’s easy when things are going well. So when you’re strained and it’s tough, can you remain a positive force for us? I’m seeing a lot of encouraging signs. We’re going to continue to work at it. That’s what I believe in.”
This isn’t blind homer-vision, folks. There’s no bulletproof confidence here. The Raiders are going to eke out a win against the Chiefs.
Sure, it could easily be Reid extending his mastery of the Raiders. History does dictate the Chiefs having an easy go in Oakland. And, let me tell you, crow tastes like chicken! But, when given its best chance at victory, Oakland has been at its worst. Now given its worst chance at a win, the Raiders will be surprisingly at their best.
While Bowman’s Raider debut is still up in the air at the moment, his answer as to why he joined Oakland was fitting. “I’m only 29 years old and I still have a lot of juice left in me, that’s why,” the ex-49er said.
The Raiders are going to show the Chiefs the downtrodden team has plenty left, too.