Raiders

Only the Raiders could lose like this

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AP

Only the Raiders could lose like this


There has always been a substantive difference between the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders, and Sunday was the latest and greatest proof yet.
 
The 49ers elevate wins beyond their station and make the quarterback the recipient of all their love. The Raiders construct unimaginable ways to lose and curse the gods that incinerate them. These are their designated places in the Great Narrative, and so, apparently, shall it always be.
 
The 49ers are enthused beyond reason by their fourth win of the year, and all the credit apparently is going to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for setting up six field goals in a 25-23 win over the Tennessee Titans.
 
And the Raiders are encased in despair and rage after being out-index-carded and weird-fumbled in a preposterous 20-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys that spits down the throat of conventional sport in almost Shakespearean ways – as in, “There are more whackadoodle things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your barely-a-rulebook.”
 
And you, the lucky fan, get to decide what matches your personality best.
 
Elsewhere, Comrade Maiocco explains how the 49ers are completely and utterly enthralled by their third consecutive victory, one in which they moved the ball with impunity all day long against the absurd Titans but only scored one touchdown and needed Robbie Gould to kick them back from the jaws of death.

Here, we will discuss how the Raiders – and ONLY the Raiders – could lose this way, with these things, done in these ways, and have it all explained by head coach Jack Del Rio by saying, “I don’t want to get fined.”
 
They lost because of a 21-yard fake punt by Dallas’ Chris Jones on a fourth-and-ten – with nearly 20 minutes still to play. They lost because quarterback Dak Prescott ran one yard and one folded index card in referee Gene Steratore’s pocket that didn’t fit between the first down stick and the ball on a fourth-and-one-yard-no-card-needed to keep the game-winning drive alive.
 
(Absurd Nonsense Addendum: Steratore told pool reporter Vic Tafur of The Athletic six times in six questions that he didn’t use the index card to make the ruling but only to “reaffirm” what he saw with his eyes, thus trying to render the nickname “The Office Depot Game” moot. Sorry, Geno, no dice. You did it, we saw it, and it lives forever).
 
And they lost because their own quarterback, Derek Carr, dove for a touchdown on a play that he had already converted for a desperately needed first down but fumbled out of the end zone with 39 seconds left, thus losing possession entirely and ruining a potentially great comeback. Better yet, it was a play he wouldn't have called had his favorite target, Michael Crabtree, had been in the game at the time rather than the concussion pup tent.
 
So allowable trickery beat them, a first-down conversion never conceived by humans before beat them, and a fumble that made a successful play they didn't want to run a disaster beat them.
 
Hell, it makes the 14 penalties for 100 yards an afterthought. It surely eliminates the value of Carr’s most intrepid game in three months.
 
And it leaves the poor unlucky bastards . . . err, the Raiders hoping for one bizarre combination of scenarii to occur in the final two weeks:
 
1.        The Raiders beating Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Chargers.
2.        The Miami Dolphins beating Kansas City and Buffalo.
3.        The Tennessee Titans losing to the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville.
4.        The Bills losing to New England as well as Miami.
5.        The Baltimore Ravens beating either Indianapolis or Cincinnati.

*Raiders could make a five-way tie at 8-8 if the fifth team is the Chargers.
 
The odds of all these things happening, based on 100,000 simulations, is less than one percent. A lot less.
 
But that is, for the moment anyway, less important than the narratives. The 49ers and their fans will make as much out of their quarterback’s work in a game won by six field goals as the Raiders and their fans will make out of finding new and bizarre ways to turn gold into zinc and then into styrofoam packing peanuts.
 
And both teams and fan groups will find their own comfort in those massively divergent world views. One team waits for a quarterback to love and to love them back, and the other waits for a trick of circumstance to hate. It may explain why 49er fans live in hope even in the most ridiculous of times, and why Raider fans die in agony even in the most glorious events.
 
Besides, the index card really was a hell of a prop that will never be repeated. Nobody’s ever losing a game by outmoded office supplies again, damn it. Next time, knowing them, the Raiders will get beaten by solar flares from the eyes of Zeus.

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

Raiders 2018 schedule released: Analysis and predictions

WEEK 1
Monday, Sept. 10 vs. Los Angeles Rams, 7:20 p.m.

Jon Gruden goes head-to-head against protégé Sean McVay in primetime, in the season opener and on a Monday Night Football telecast Gruden was on for nine seasons. That's must-see TV. 

Prediction: L.

WEEK 2
Sunday, Sept. 16, at Denver, 1:25 p.m.

The Broncos might be the AFC West’s worst team. The Raiders have to make hay a mile up, a chore made easier with an early-season game. They avoid snow this year. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 3
Sunday, Sept. 23, at Miami, 10:00 a.m.

The Raiders beat the Dolphins in Florida last year. It’s hard to say Miami’s much better than they were a year ago. This road win’s attainable, even in the first of four morning kickoffs.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 4
Sunday, Sept. 30, vs. Cleveland, 1:05 p.m.

The Browns should be better, but that remains a game you’ve got to win. Hue Jackson’s return to Oakland adds intrigue to these proceedings.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 5
Sunday, Oct. 7, at L.A. Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders will have a huge home-field advantage in Carson, as they do each time they play the Chargers in Southern California. That should help against a formidable opponent that has had trouble staying healthy in recent years.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 6
Sunday, Oct. 14, vs. Seattle (at London’s Tottenham Stadium), 10:00 a.m.
The Raiders won’t make their combine their London trip with an East Coast game to make things easier from a travel perspective. Gruden doesn’t want to be away from home that long. How the Raiders handle a long flight to the United Kingdom will go a long way in determining a victor.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 7
BYE

WEEK 8
Sunday, Oct. 28, vs. Indianapolis, 1:05 p.m.

The Colts still stink, even if Andrew Luck is back healthy and throwing for this one. These are games (especially at home) the Raiders have to win.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 9
Thursday, Nov. 1, at 49ers, 5:20 p.m.
A Thursday night game offers plenty of time to get primed in the parking lot. It also guarantees a traffic mess heading into Levi’s Stadium. What could possibly go wrong? This should be a good matchup on the field, with two young quarterbacks leading the charge.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 10
Sunday, Nov. 11, vs. Los Angeles Chargers, 1:05 p.m.

The Raiders have lost two of their last three home games to the Chargers. They have to handle business at home, even against a talented squad led by Philip Rivers and Joey Bosa.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 11
Sunday, Nov. 18, at Arizona, 1:05 p.m.

The Cardinals are mired in a rebuilding mode, well behind the Raiders at this stage.

Prediction: W.

WEEK 12
Sunday, Nov. 25, at Baltimore, 10:00 a.m.

Michael Crabtree will be supremely motivated for this one, after the Raiders essentially exchanged him for Jordy Nelson. He’s pretty dangerous in those situations.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 13
Sunday, Dec. 2, vs. Kansas City, 1:05 p.m.

The Chiefs will be a great litmus test, to see if the Raiders can handle big-play threats better than they have in recent seasons.

Prediction: L.

WEEK 14
Sunday, Dec. 9, vs. Pittsburgh, 5:20 p.m.

The Raiders defense better be ready to go against Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown and the Steelers scoring machine in the Oakland Coliseum slate’s best matchup. To make matters better, this one's in primetime, on Sunday night. 

Prediction: L.

WEEK 15
Sunday, Dec. 16, at Cincinnati, 10:00 a.m.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther will go up against the team he helped run recently. Guenther should be an expert on stopping Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense. That will help the Raiders here. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 16
Monday, Dec. 24, vs. Denver, 5:15 p.m.

Marquette King’s coming back to Oakland. He’s looking forward to this one. So is Bruce Irvin. All this plays out on Monday Night Football, the Raiders' fourth primetime game and third at Oakland Coliseum. 

Prediction: W.

WEEK 17
Sunday, Dec. 30,at Kansas City, 10:00 a.m.

Arrowhead Stadium has been a house of horrors for the Raiders in recent seasons. Jack Del Rio could never figure how to play well there. Can Jon Gruden buck that trend?

Prediction: L.

An early quarterback run will help Raiders in this NFL Draft

An early quarterback run will help Raiders in this NFL Draft

This NFL Draft should be interesting at the top. Quarterbacks should dominate early proceedings, with teams ready to select as many as four passers in the top 10.

That would suit the Raiders just fine. Derek Carr’s their franchise quarterback. They don’t need another one.

Many other teams do, meaning Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen could all be taken quickly.

“That will really reshape the draft, particularly if there's a run on quarterbacks very, very early in the draft like many of us expect,” NFL Network analyst and former Raiders cornerback Bucky Brooks said in a conference call. “…I think the fascination for me will be what do teams do to put themselves in a position to get a quarterback, what blue chip players find themselves in a bit of a free-fall because these quarterbacks come off the board.”

The Raiders obviously aren’t considering a quarterback at the top. They’ll likely get one of, if not the best players at his position falling farther than they would in a normal year.

We’ve gone over possible selections at No. 10 overall. If you missed it, check it out here.

Quality abounds in that group, with top players at key positions of need. That includes linebacker, defensive tackle and defensive back (and maybe edge rusher) at that spot.

While having four quarterbacks go before the Raiders picks shoves top players down to No. 10, leaving one on the market would make that selection incredibly valuable.

The Raiders could offer that pick to a quarterback starved team willing to trade up to get their passer of the present and future. We’ve outlined candidates for the Raiders should they trade down in the first round, and carry on with extra selections.

The Raiders have 11 as it stands, with one pick in the first four rounds, two in the fifth, four in the sixth and another in the seventh. That’s plenty to package and trade up to land a coveted player in this draft.

The Raiders aim to get the most value from the No. 10 pick, either with an elite draft prospect or the bounty that comes from trading it. One catch: The 49ers could be thinking the same thing at No. 9, a spot earned with a tiebreaking coin flip at the NFL Scouting Combine. They also have similar needs, though they aren’t exactly the same, but should deter the Raiders too much from getting the player or trade they covet.

That’s due to the top-flight quarterbacks they have no intention of drafting.