The Raiders are sitting on one win, and have been since Week 4. The franchise has gone downhill since, with blowout losses to the L.A. Chargers and Seahawks, a defensive disaster against Indianapolis and Thursday night’s thrashing at Levi’s Stadium.
This squad is so bad and beat up and deflated by all the outside noise about trades and talent levels and controversial comments that a single win seems difficult.
Not that they aren’t trying. Tanking is a fun word that simply doesn’t apply to the week-to-week preparations of this coaching staff or this roster, even if the best possible draft pick would help rebuild the franchise. Gruden’s personnel decisions may have set the 2018 Raiders up to fail, but believe the head coach when he says he doesn’t get up at 4 a.m. looking to lose.
All that effort can’t prevent the inevitable. The Raiders are going to lose a lot more before this lost season’s done. Only 10 teams have gone 1-15 since the regular season expanded. The Raiders have a real shot to be No. 11, especially with a daunting slate ahead.
The team’s remaining opponents are currently a combined 37-25-1.
The Raiders are looking toward a brighter future that starts this offseason, with money to spend in free agency and NFL draft picks aplenty. There are eight games to play – eight games!!! -- before reaching that vital stretch.
Let’s mine at the remaining slate for opportunities to get a win:
Week 10: vs. L.A. Chargers (current record: 5-2)
-- This one might be tough, even if the Raiders offense plays better at home. The Chargers can score in bunches, which spells trouble against the historically awful Raiders defense. The Chargers don’t lose often, only taking Ls from the Chiefs and Rams. They waxed the Raiders in Carson and could easily do so again.
Week 11: at Arizona (current record: 2-7)
-- This might be the last legitimate chance to get a win. But the red birds beat the 49ers twice and the Santa Clarans waxed the Raiders, so by the transitive property which always works (I kid, I kid)…Seriously, though the Cardinals offense stinks. The Raiders could outscore them in the desert.
Week 12: at Baltimore (current record: 4-4)
-- Ravens have the NFL’s best defense. Nobody allows fewer yards or points. That spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e.
Week 13: Kansas City (current record: 7-1)
-- The league’s most explosive offense will square off against a Raiders defense that gives up the most explosive plays. The Chiefs could put up a 50-spot.
Week 14: vs. Pittsburgh (current record: 4-2-1)
-- The Raiders-Steelers rivalry has produced some of the greatest games in NFL history. This probably won’t be one. It should get flexed out of primetime, which might be good with James Conner and Big Ben and Antonio Brown always primed to score.
Week 15: at Cincinnati (current record: 5-3)
-- Paul Guenther will face his old team and think of easier times coaching Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. The Bengals are capable of laying an egg against anybody, but still have plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball.
Week 16: vs. Denver (current record: 3-5)
This Monday night game against the Broncos could go well for the Raiders. Maybe. Any game with Case Keenum quarterbacking is up for grabs. Maybe he’ll be in a giving mood on Christmas Eve.
Week 17: at Kansas City (current record: 7-1)
-- Maybe the Chiefs will have the AFC West and playoff seeding wrapped and sit Mahomes and Hunt and Kelce and Hill. Or maybe the Chargers will stay close enough that the Cheifs will have to keep their foot on the gas. The Raiders wouldn’t like that playing in the cold and one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums.