Photo credit: Erik Drost
Author: Joey Carr
We all knew this day would come. Many people compared this day to an Armageddon or the zombie apocalypse, but every sport fan knew that one day the Oakland Raiders would be on the rise. Ever since the Tuck Rule Game in 2001 and their Super Bowl loss in 2002, Oakland has been a huge laughing stock in the NFL. They’re draft picks have blown up in their faces (Jamarcus Russell, Darren McFadden, etc.), and free agency hasn’t been too kind to them either. But in the past couple of years, some of their higher draft picks have been paying off tremendously (Khalil Mack, Derek Carr, Amari Cooper), and they got some talent in the offseason (Aldon Smith). And here in 2015, sitting at 4-3, we have to start taking the Raiders seriously for the first time in a long time.
If I told you before the season started that the Oakland Raiders would be in the playoff picture through Week 8, you would’ve told me I was psychotic; it’s the Raiders for goodness sakes. But when they drafted stud Alabama wideout Amari Cooper in this year’s draft, many people around the league began to wonder how far Oakland could go with the talent they had on hand. The answer: as far as they want. They possess a surprisingly potent offense, with Derek Carr at the helm, Latavius Murray as the workhorse, and Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree as the deep threats. Also, let’s not forget about Khalil Mack, Aldon Smith, and Charles Woodson leading the defense. This is an Oakland team that has tons of talent, and so far, has shown the rest of the league that they are not to be taken lightly. They’ve dismantled two high-powered AFC teams in the past two weeks in the Chargers and Jets, and look to continue their hot streak when they visit the Steelers, another highly touted AFC team. If they can manage to escape Heinz Field with a victory, they would control their own destiny in terms of the playoffs, and could surprise a few teams come January.
Why have the Oakland Raiders been so successful? They’re finally playing with some tenacity and smarts. In the past, the Black and Silver haven’t exactly been the smartest team in the league, as proven by last year’s embarrassing play against the Chiefs in Week 12 when they almost lost the game due to two players celebrating a sack 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage while time was still running. However, this year seems to be different, as the Raiders squad is playing like a legitimate playoff contender. Derek Carr and Amari Cooper are clicking on all cylinders, and have the hottest connection in all of football right now. Latavius Murray is proving to be a true workhorse out of the backfield, and contributors like Michael Crabtree are meshing well in their roles. The defense, led by ageless veteran Charles Woodson, is standing its ground, forcing punts and causing multiple turnovers. With the Raiders playing at this high of a level and a majority of the AFC struggling for wins, it looks the stars are aligning for Oakland to make it’s first playoff appearance since 2002.
Charity of the day: Starlight Children’s Foundation
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