The Raiders’ long relationship with their Oakland fans will come to a sad, emotional end Sunday with the team’s final game at the Oakland Coliseum.
With the Raiders moving to Las Vegas next season, this Sunday's matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars will give loyal fans one final opportunity to tailgate, put on their silver-and-black jerseys and cheer this edition of the team after decades applauding the likes of Ken Stabler, Ben Davidson, Howie Long, Cliff Branch, Fred Biletnikoff, Jim Plunkett and Lester Hayes.
The only good news – and it’s small consolation – is that the Jaguars should provide a nice victory for a team desperately in need of one.
The Raiders have lost three straight to fall to 6-7 and, barring multiple miracles, are out of the playoff picture. The Jags, at least, are poised to give the Raiders and their fans one final chance to celebrate a victory in Oakland.
The Jaguars are 4-9 and have lost five consecutive games. And each of those scores has been lopsided – 26-3 to Houston, 33-13 to Indianapolis, 42-20 to Tennessee, 28-11 to Tampa Bay and 45-10 to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Jaguars rank 23rd in the NFL in total defense, giving up more than 373 yards per game, and are the league’s ninth-worst scoring defense, allowing 25.9 points per game. The Jags are particularly helpless in defending the run, ranking 30th, with an average allowance of 141.1 yards per game.
That should allow the Raiders – even if No. 1 back Josh Jacobs is unable to play a second straight game because of injury (his status remains uncertain) – to move the ball, control the game’s tempo and allow quarterback Derek Carr some flexibility.
Of course, the Raiders defense – which also has had its share of problems – will have to contend with physical running back Leonard Fournette, who’s already rushed for 1,039 yards and has 68 catches, too.
The Raiders will need a victory Sunday against the Jags, and the following weeks against the Chargers and Broncos to have any hopes of getting into the playoffs at 9-7 – and even then will need several teams to falter over the final three-game stretch to open a door.
Sunday’s final game in Oakland is set to kick off at 1:05 p.m. Oddsmakers list the Raiders as 6½-point favorites.