MEXICO CITY – There was a point this summer when the Raiders were a fun, sexy selection to challenge New England for AFC supremacy.
That hot take hath frozen over.
The Raiders have meandered through a disappointing season in the middle of the conference. And, in case there was any doubt, the Patriots proved Sunday that they’re still king.
They flat whooped the Raiders in Mexico City. The Silver and Black got outplayed, outcoached, outschemed, out-everythinged at Estadio Azteca, looking like a team unworthy of playoff consideration.
NOTE: The paragraphs above were written at halftime. That’s when this game was over.
The Patriots took a three-score lead and a shutout into the break. The Raiders offered little resistance then or later on, killing themselves time and again with inexcusable mistakes.
All that resulted in a 33-8 beat down.
This was Week 3 in Washington all over again, maybe worse. The Raiders haven’t played this bad in years, maybe in the entire Jack Del Rio era.
Despite all that, the Silver and Black are still in it. The Kansas City Chiefs are in a free fall, and dropped to 6-4 after losing to the lowly New York Giants.
The Raiders remain two games back in the AFC West and are still in the wild-card hunt, though their margin for error is officially nil. They need to go on a run there’s zero indication they can make, with Kansas City, Philadelphia and Dallas among those left on the slate.
Mathematically speaking, the Raiders can still finish 10-6.
We all know they won’t. The Raiders haven’t been on a winning streak since Week 2 thanks to maddening inconsistency and, at times, simply awful play.
They surely can’t compete with the NFL’s elite, a point the Patriots made crystal clear.
New England dominated from the outset, with a long touchdown drive the Raiders never answered.
The game formally turned late in the second quarter, with the Raiders driving down 14-0. They were marched toward the end zone when receiver Seth Roberts left the ball away from his body and got it knocked free. The Patriots recovered, worked downfield in no time and set up Stephen Gostowski’s 62-yard field goal.
That gave New England a three-score lead extended to four on the Patriots’ third play of the third quarter. Tom Brady connected with Brandin Cooks on a 64-yard touchdown. The conclusion was forgone, but that play was a dagger to the heart.
It also negated the one thing the Raiders did well. Marshawn Lynch ran effectively throughout, but the score eliminated his opportunities. He had xx yards on xx carries, and looked ready to take over a game. When you’re down so far, you gotta throw.
That posed a problem. Derek Carr was passing to receivers with a case of the drops that routinely stalled drives.
The offense never found a rhythm, the defense got beat soundly by Tom Brady’s brilliance. All that coming off a bye.
Each part of the Raiders organization deserves blame for this loss and this disappointing season. The personnel department failed to address voids on the roster. The coaching staff got outschemed despite having extra time to prepare, and the players failed to execute well.
And yet, as we stated earlier, the Raiders are still in it. The only way they stay there is by playing far better than they did on Sunday, and there’s little confidence the Silver and Black are capable of that.