Raiders

Presented By Ray Ratto
Raiders

OAKLAND -- In four days, the worst post-Halloween prime-time matchup in NFL history, both aesthetically and statistically, will test your endurance when the 1-7 San Francisco 49ers entertain -- if that’s the word you are comfortable with -- the 1-6 Oakland Raiders. It will be a festival of SMHs and LOLs and self-delusion in which one team will come away only less demoralized than the other.
 
Unless, of course, it ends in a tie, which if there is justice in the universe, it should.
 
There aren’t a lot of ways to pretty up Thursday’s game based on Sunday’s two games. The 49ers blew a 12-point lead with 12 minutes left against an Arizona Cardinals team with no discernible offense and lost 18-15, while the Raiders allowed 42 points to an Indianapolis Colts team that hadn’t managed that since 2014. Both games felt like forlorn exercises, especially in Oakland, where the access in and out of the Coliseum was scandalously easy, where tickets could be had for as low as $16 on the secondary sites, and where there were conservatively 8,000 empty seats.
 
In other words, while those in the building did what they could to recreate the standard stadium atmosphere, the Raiders clearly are in no position to reciprocate.
 
Doug Martin’s late-game fumble will be much scrutinized, given its timing immediately after the Colts’ go-ahead score, and the Raiders' general demeanor as this season decomposes will be on constant display for judgment and analysis.
 
But the truth Sunday is that they had to defend for eight possessions and gave up five touchdowns and two field goals. They gave up 32 of those 42 points in the first and fourth quarters, when the Colts had possession for 26:17 of the available 30 minutes. They allowed scoring drives of 11, 13, 16 and 12 plays. They were as they have been all season -- extremely pliable to the needs and desires of the opponent.
 
And Jon Gruden’s postgame presser was a cavalcade of winces and exasperated smirks and referencing injuries while saying he would make no excuses as he fiercely battled not to break programming and shriek: “YOU ALL SAW THE GAME, DAMN IT! I HAVE NOTHING MORE TO TELL YOU!”
 
What the Raiders coach did say, though, wasn’t much more comforting.
 
“We don’t get many possessions, we don’t get the ball very often,” he said with an evident wince. “I don’t think we ran out of gas. I just think defensively we have to take a long look at who can be out there and help us right now. We’re struggling.
 
“It’s been that way pretty much the entire season. Three possessions in the second half against the Chargers, three possessions in the second half against the Seahawks, and I think we had three possessions in the first half today. It just goes to show you we have a long way to go, like I’ve been saying.”
 
And not enough time to get there to satisfy the dwindling number of paying customers.
 
But then he dropped the bomb.
 
“We got a short week, and we have to get ready for the 49ers.”
 
And the nation has a short week to get ready for both of them.
 
Thursday’s game will not show well as an optic. The traffic will keep many people home, the sun will keep those with east-side seats in shelter, and the teams will play for that all-important No. 2 draft pick (the New York Giants remain steadfastly first in that all-important category). It's hard to imagine a more difficult watch for all but the most devoted fans, fantasy players and bettors.
 
These teams have known hard times in tandem before, but this is unique for reasons we needn’t rehash here. This, though, will have to go way against the grain to not be one of the hardest visual slogs of the year. In a season that has tested both the 49ers and Raiders in unimaginable ways, Thursday’s game will test the rest of us in the one category in which we have a diminishing supply.
 
Our patience.