With six straight losses and a 3-10 record, the Raiders are headed nowhere in 2012.
But a game this Sunday against the Chiefs carries with it a big piece of the puzzle for 2013 and beyond.
The 2-11 Chiefs (tied with the Jaguars for the worst record in the NFL) and Raiders will tangle in Oakland’s final home game of the season, with the loser taking another step closer to the possible No. 1 pick in next April’s draft.
In their previous meeting this season, the Raiders topped Kansas City 26-16.
The Raiders’ final two games come on the road against Carolina and San Diego; the Chiefs will finish with Indianapolis and Denver. Jacksonville plays Miami this weekend, then has New England and Tennessee.
Should the Raiders beat the Chiefs this weekend – NFL oddsmakers have them as a 2½-point to 3-point favorite – it will definitely hurt their shot at the No. 1 selection.
No matter what, though, the Raiders will be in position to select a high-impact player – something they couldn’t do last season because of a lack of draft picks.
A productive draft could be the first big step toward re-stocking a roster that was thin this season and allow GM Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen a fighting chance in 2013.
Despite his team’s record, Allen is speaking as if he anticipates coming back for a second season.
After the Raiders lost to the Broncos Thursday night, Allen told reporters he has his eyes on the bigger picture.
“All of us, as competitors, we want to win. That’s what it’s all about,” Allen said Friday. “But I also understand, and I’ve got a big-picture view of what I want this football team to look like. Reggie and I have talked about it. We knew what we were dealing with when we came here. We knew we had some depth issues on the roster, and we couldn’t sustain a lot of injuries. We’ve sustained a few injuries in some spots.
“We all want to win, and I understand that. And I want to win now, but I’m looking at the long-term future of this team. We’ve got to prepare for the future.”
Some of Allen’s former players on the Broncos – where he served as defensive coordinator before coming to Oakland – gave him a vote of confidence after Thursday’s game.
Though the Broncos twice manhandled the Raiders, they believe Allen can be a successful NFL coach.
“It’s just his first year,” Broncos linebacker Von Miller told the Associated Press. “I’m sure they’ll get it cooking. For us we got it clicking with Coach Allen. He’s a great coach. I’m sure the wins will start coming soon.”