The peace and quiet of an NFL Sunday in which neither of our representatives participates gives us a chance to ask the burning question, “Are the Raiders REALLY the worst team in football?”
You might find that hard to believe if you have not yet forgotten what you watched four days ago in Santa Clara. You might have concluded that such lack of inspiration from the visor to the helmets cannot be matched by any other team. You might have decided that this is as low as it gets.
Well, it isn’t. The Raiders themselves have matched this level of anti-achievement in the past. So have the 49ers. So has every team at one point or another.
So are the Raiders actually the bottom of the bottom of the barrel’s bottom?
Well, there are the Cleveland Browns, who are 2-6-1, with one of the six coming against Oakland. The Browns have fired a coordinator and a head coach, and I wouldn’t bet against the interim coach/other coordinator getting the same treatment before season’s end.
There are Buffalo Bills, with their historically dreadful offense and parade of quarterbacks who can’t quarterback and deteriorating set of results (their last three losses came by a total of 83 points) indicate their ghosts has given up on them rather than the other way around.
There are the Arizona Cardinals, who didn’t play Sunday but have two wins over the team that the Raiders lost to Thursday night. They also just cut Sam Bradford, and their coach already is rumored to be in trouble despite having had only eight games to show what he can and cannot do.
There are the New York Giants, who also didn’t play and have the same number of wins as Oakland and have a lonely running back carrying their offensive burden, plus they still are positioned to have the first pick in next year’s draft.
So, truth be told, the Raiders might not actually be the worst team in football, despite the almost universal disgust they inspired Thursday night. “Worst” typically is a subjective analysis based largely on how much nausea, but we do know the fact that the Los Angeles Chargers are 10-point road favorites for Sunday’s game, and that is a nearly unthinkable notion, given the Chargers’ atrocious record any time people believe they’re actually worthy of their credit.
This might seem like a side door to figure out which team should get the first pick, but the hell with that. Draft picks come and, if you think about the Raiders, go. This is about the visceral feeling that the team you might follow is the very best at something, even if it is being the very worst at the thing you thought they were trying to do.
This, then, is the reason to watch the rest of their season despite the horrors that will confront you. See? You knew there was a point to this. Your task is to see if this Raiders team can stand up to the worst the NFL offers now, and if so, can it exceed it.
In short, can they be the Browns, who just fired a former Raiders coach? Can they be the Bills, who cannot score points but are quite adept at allowing others to do so? Can they be the Giants, bizarrely tied to a quarterback in Eli Manning whom they both love and hate at the same time? Can they be the Cardinals? Well, first, you have to figure out how they win another game and then you have to figure out how they are superior to a team that twice beat the team that just beat the hell out of them.
But at least there are other people in the game, which we could not have imagined Thursday night. In other words, this Raiders season could get worse, but in getting worse, it could enter an entirely new and exciting realm -- as a competitor in a frantic dig toward the earth’s crust, with three or four other really awful teams.
The Raiders are not alone at Floor Zero, you see. But let’s see if they can’t get there, shall we?