Can Raiders Finally Avoid A Collapse In 2021?

The make-or-break game for the Las Vegas Raiders is here as they sit at 5-4 and face a team on a similar trajectory in the Cincinnati Bengals, who also have a 5-4 record. It might seem like light years ago, but both teams were legitimate threats in the AFC when they sat at 5-2.
Fast forward here, and they both seem to be in freefall, with gut-wrenching losses and a beating by a division rival. For the Raiders, it’s the same old story as they have had back-to-back collapses, but can they change that this year? The biggest questions are here for Sunday.

Will the Raiders avoid the collapse?

In the two previous years, the Raiders suffered monumental collapses even with their so-called favorable schedules. With the last two games, emotions have been drummed up. Here we go again. The question is, will the collapse happen, or will the Raiders avoid the same fate? The two previous years saw the highest of highs only to see a drop faster than an opponent in Mike Tyson’s prime. There are a few reasons why it’s a different outcome this year.

At some point, it has to be different, right?

Many players on this squad have been here for the previous two failures and do not want to go through it again. The team says the right things but needs something to go their way. I believe that the third year will be the charm, and they will break through and avoid that collapse.

Gruden is gone…

In the previous year, Jon Gruden was at the helm. In the past, Gruden had a knack for second-half slipups. A key part of his mishaps coincided with no adjustments made after the midway point of the season. Gruden seemed content running the same plays that most teams had a beat on. This season, since he’s been gone, the team has been a little bit more risk-taking and not necessarily as easy to read. The last two games came after a month-long saga of bad news for the team. With no distractions to speak of, this is the week where they finally get away from it.

The late-season drop happened midseason…

In previous seasons, the Raiders had their drop at the end of the season. The 6-4 start in 2019 was followed by a 1-5 finish. Then, a 6-3 start last year was followed by a 2-5 finish. This year the Raiders started 3-0, but since then have gone 2-4. So, could it be that their unlucky streak of games happened earlier? I know it’s a long shot, but I look at a season in the past to get inspiration. In 2002, the Raiders started 4-0 and followed that up with four straight losses. They followed those four losses by going on to end the year 7-1. Oh, and they made the playoffs and Super Bowl. Now we won’t speak about what happened in that game, but I’m sure nobody will be upset with a playoff appearance.

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*Top Photo: Don Wright / Associated Press

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