The Oakland Raiders have fallen to 2-3 on the season after losing three consecutive games, leaving themselves little room for error.
It’s difficult to recall a season for any team where after two games, they looked like a top team in the conference just to have things spiral out of control a short three weeks later. That is exactly what has had happened to the Oakland Raiders so far this season.
Injuries, awful offense, poor defense and terrible coaching have led to three consecutive losses. You name it, and it likely has gone wrong for the Raiders in these last three games.
After five weeks and the most recent 30-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, it’s safe to say that the Raiders have hit rock bottom. Sunday’s 30-17 loss to the Ravens was supposed to be the game where the Raiders got things turned around. But instead, another loss now has Oakland with their backs against the wall. If they can’t turn things around this coming Sunday, hopes of making the playoffs will be all but over.
Simply put, with 11 games left this season, it’s now or never for the Raiders. The good news is that Derek Carr should return this week against the Chargers after missing only one game with a transverse process fracture in his back. The bad news is that the Raiders can’t afford to lose many more games if they have plans to sneak into the postseason as a wild card team.
Since 1990, only 21.3 percent of teams that have started the season 2-3 have gone on to make the playoffs. So history certainly doesn’t favor Oakland’s chances.
Looking ahead at the schedule, the path to the playoffs is a difficult one. Games against the Broncos, Patriots, Cowboys, Eagles and two games against the Chiefs still loom. It’s hard to predict what record will be needed to earn a wild card spot, but 10-6 is usually the number to shoot for. The Raiders will need to go 8-3 the rest of the way to get there, so they could definitely use some help from other teams in addition to winning their own games.
With that being said, consider this next game against the Los Angeles Chargers a must-win. The Chargers are 1-4 and are an inferior team in just about every facet. Oakland has to take care of business in this one, and beyond that, in the next few games as well. Winning their next three games would put them at 5-4 going into the bye week before a game against the Patriots.
A major factor working against the Raiders is injuries. Several key players such as Gabe Jackson, Gareon Conley and David Amerson are banged up, as are Cory James, Marquel Lee and Jamize Olawale. Not to mention it’s a question mark how Derek Carr will perform coming back from his injury. All teams deal with injuries, but there is no denying that the injury report is starting to pile up for the Raiders.
But once you hit rock bottom, there is nowhere to go but up. The Raiders are far too talented of a team not to show some fight and at least make things interesting. So just as quickly as things have gone south, they can just as quickly improve. What the Raiders need is just to take this one game at a time, get back in the win column and stop the bleeding. From there, it’s about building confidence and continuing to get better each week. If they can do that, then the season isn’t over just yet. But it’s now or never.