Two weeks ago, the Raiders were 6-4 and looking like a postseason contender. Today, the playoffs seem far, far away.
After Sunday’s 40-9 wipeout loss to the Chiefs in Kansas City – and the previous week’s 34-3 face-plant in New Jersey to the Jets – Oakland has fallen to 6-6 and would be on the outside looking in were the NFL playoffs to begin now.
The only hope for the Raiders is to beat one of the NFL’s hottest teams, the Tennessee Titans, Sunday in Oakland. The Titans are 7-5, just ahead of the Raiders in the fight to overcome the 7-5 Steelers for the final AFC wild-card spot (the Buffalo Bills at 9-3 are the No. 1 wild card).
And the Titans have won five of their past six games, including three straight, over the Chiefs, Jaguars and Colts. Plus, the Raiders are 0-5 this season against teams that right now have winning records.
While the Titans will be a major hurdle, there are potentially winnable games to close out the season, with the Jaguars (4-8), Chargers (4-8) and Broncos (4-8). So, a Raiders victory over Tennessee and victories to close out the season would give them a 10-6 record and a shot at the postseason.
But four straight wins, after being outscored 74-12 the past two weeks, seems like a leap too far. Especially the way the Raiders have played in those games. Against Kansas City Sunday, the Raiders turned the ball over three times and committed 12 penalties.
All day, the Raiders – who needed a perfect game to beat the Chiefs – were sloppy and mistake-prone.
"Our inability to stay away from the penalties and put ourselves in horrible situations (was disappointing)," Gruden told the media. "We had turnovers in the kicking game. I think we had four defensive false starts. We had a pick-six. We just never found our rhythm at all."
The Raiders have six days to find it before hosting the Titans in a must-win game. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m.