Raiders

Postseason Hopes In Jeopardy Following Raiders’ Week 13 Loss

The majority of Las Vegas Raiders fans were saying “WTF” after the 17-15 loss to the Washington Football Team. That one really stung. They all do, but ones like this leave a different taste in your mouth. It tastes like char and sulfur from the season’s hopes going up in flames.

Sitting in 10th place in the AFC at 6-6 and behind impressive teams like the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills, and, to a lesser extent, the Cincinnati Bengals, is rough. It’ll be tough to extinguish the flames Sunday’s loss stoked. Once again, though, mathematically, the Raiders are not eliminated yet.

They are one game out of a wildcard spot, but the NY Times gives them just a 13% chance to get in. So you’re saying there’s a chance! Yes, but realistically it’s more than a long shot. It’s looking like another season watching the playoffs is near certainty at this point.

It’s devastating considering the improbable victory on Thanksgiving against the Cowboys last week. Snapping their three-game losing streak by beating a good team could have put the Raiders back on track. All they had to do was beat Washington on Sunday. Doing so would have solidified their momentum from last week’s win.

Instead, they pissed it all away by losing this very winnable game. They should have beaten Washington, but they didn’t. The Silver and Black had so many chances to score despite their poor offensive performance, but Las Vegas just kept screwing it up. The defense once again played well enough to win, but the offense couldn’t get out of its own way.

So Many Missed Opportunities…

So many missed opportunities it’s ridiculous: Derek Carr missing a wide-open Bryan Edwards on their two-point conversion attempt, settling for three field goals again instead of getting touchdowns, barely overthrowing Zay Jones in the end zone before their third field goal, Trevon Moehrig’s dropped interception with just under a minute left, or if the refs called the blatant jersey grab on the last chance deep ball on the last drive.

Worst of all, though, was the complete lack of preparation on how to properly attack Washington’s biggest weakness. They had the 32nd ranked pass defense and the Raiders didn’t attack it. Instead, they ran short passes after short passes. Vegas hardly tested the league’s worst pass defense downfield at all. What kind of strategy is that?!

The complete lack of boldness by the Raiders offense also featured not one but two punts from the Washington 48-yard line. Neither one was necessarily short, with one being 4th and 4 and the other being 4th and 5, but both were worth going for. This was a must-win game, and you do not punt on the opponent’s side of the field with manageable yard distances in must-win games. They needed to have some courage and urgency, but instead they showed ultra-conservative complacency.

Rich Bisaccia Is Not The Answer

Short of winning the final five games of the season, Rich Bisaccia will not have the interim label removed. His lack of courage in key moments proves the Raiders must look elsewhere for next year’s coach. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy, but results matter. Suggesting otherwise is moral victory word vomit that does not belong in football. Al Davis would have fired him during his post-game conference for what he said after the game.

Are you kidding right now? That’s what you said after this game? That is so out of touch, it is no way to motivate a team after a tough loss. There are times when you absolutely have to show passion, and that was one of those times. Bisaccia’s response in that press conference was not passion. It was the NFL equivalent of handing out blue ribbons.

At least Josh Jacobs had a solid performance with 52 rushing yards on 13 carries. He also had nine catches for 38 yards. The Raiders need a lot more of that going forward because they lost Kenyan Drake for the rest of the season to injury.

Hunter Renfrow was an absolute monster in this game too. He had nine catches for 102 yards. He was the only true bright spot in the passing game. The next best pass catcher was Jacobs, with 38 yards. That difference alone shows the inexcusable performance against the last-place pass defense.

The Rookies Are Shining

One noticeable positive in this game was the performance of several defensive rookies. It was great to see Nate Hobbs get his first interception of his career. Hobbs has been a bright spot in the secondary all year long, except for not having gotten his hands on any interceptions before now. He has had one hell of a rookie season, especially for a fifth-round draft pick.

We also got a glimpse of third-round rookie Malcolm Koonce, who finally got to see the playing field. He certainly made the most of it with an impressive sack of the surprisingly elusive Taylor Heinicke. There’s no doubt he deserves more playing time now, and hopefully we will get to see a lot more of the intriguing rookie down the stretch.

There is also Moehrig, despite dropping the game-sealing interception. He still put himself in a position to make that play and has had a fantastic rookie season. He’s been under the radar simply because he hasn’t been mentioned much at all. However, he hasn’t been mentioned because he hasn’t been getting beat. He has been everything the Raiders hoped he’d be.

Who’s Next…

Next up, the Raiders have an away game against the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s a game they have no business winning, which means they will somehow pull it off. That’s just how this season has gone anyway, not that I really think they will beat the Chiefs. Crazier things have happened this year, though, that’s for certain.

If they do want to beat the Chiefs, it’s going to take a hell of a lot more than 249 yards and no touchdowns from Derek Carr. In fact, the trend this year says he needs at least 300 because they are still winless in the season when he throws less than that.

We will see what happens next week in this ridiculous season. It’s beyond a must-win with only five games left. Las Vegas can’t afford even one more loss with how many teams are ahead of them in the playoff race. At this point, 10 wins, or even 11 for that matter, might not be enough. Less than that, and the flames burning up the Raiders’ final hopes for the season will have officially turned them to ash.

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*Top Photo: Associated Press/Isaac Brekken

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