Now Comes the Hard Part for Winless Raiders

Remainder of schedule is much tougher for 0-6 team that wants to avoid going 0-16 in 2014

Late in Sunday’s Raiders game against Arizona, the Cardinals’ Darnell Dockett held up a sign to the Oakland fans who’d been taunting him. 

“Worst team in NFL,” it said. “0-6.” 

Unfortunately, 0-6 might just be the start of the pain for Raiders fans this season. Except for the team’s next opponent, Cleveland – which lost to the previously winless Jaguars this past weekend – there doesn’t seem to be a winnable game on the Raiders’ entire schedule. 

In essence, the Raiders have gotten through the “easy” part of their season. They couldn’t beat the Jets, the Texans or the Dolphins, all of whom appeared vulnerable. And they let two good teams, the Patriots and Chargers, escape with victories when they were on the ropes. 

Now, after the 3-3 Browns this Sunday in Cleveland, come (in order): the Super Bowl champion Seahawks, the 5-1 Broncos who tore apart the 49ers Sunday night, the Chargers in San Diego, the Chiefs, the Rams (who just toppled Seattle), the 49ers, the Chiefs again, the 4-3 Bills and, finally, the Broncos in Denver.

Under new head coach Tony Sparano, the Raiders appear to be playing with more zest than they did under the now-fired Dennis Allen. But how much does zest count for when the defense is often overmatched and can’t come up with big plays in key late-game situations? 

“This is as bad as you’re going to et through the first part of the season,” veteran Raiders safety Charles Woodson told reporters after Sunday’s 24-13 loss to Arizona at Coliseum. “We haven’t won a game. How much worse can it get than that, than not winning a game?” 

After the Raiders started 0-4, one number-crunching website,, gave the Raiders just a 2.14 percent chance of going 0-16. After all, it’s hard to go 0-16. Only the Detroit Lions of 2008 have been able to do it. At that time, the Jaguars (6 percent) were made the more likely winless team. 

But now the Jags are on the winning track and the Raiders are still searching. The website pointed to the Week 13 game in St. Louis as Oakland’s best chance for a win, giving it a 40.5 percent chance of victory.

For now, however, it looks like the Raiders are going to need some huge breaks to get that first victory. 

After watching his team lose for the 12th consecutive week, dating to the 2013 season, Sparano is staying positive. The schedule doesn’t look optimistic, but he is. 

“I’m going to work as long as I have to work to get this thing done the right way,” he said at his postgame news conference. “The team we play next week (Browns) got beat by a team today, to the best of my knowledge, that is in a similar situation. So we just have to work our tails off right now.” 

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