The Raiders’ final challenge in 2014 is to win a game on the road.
When the 3-12 Raiders go into Denver Sunday to face the 11-3 Broncos, they go in knowing they haven’t won a game away from O.co Coliseum this season. And, while they’ve won three straight at home, they’ve flopped in the games between those home victories, losing to the Rams 52-0 and to the Chiefs 31-13.
As Michael Wagaman of ESPN.com noted this week, it’s been a longstanding problem for the Raiders, who are just 2-21 on the road since a win in Kansas City in December of 2011.
“That’s our biggest challenge right now,” defensive tackle Antonio Smith told Wagaman. “That’s kind of our Achilles’ heel, to find that motivation that the Raiders fans give us here on away games. To take the energy out of the crowd of the home team and use it to our advantage.”
The Raiders have lost their past two games in Denver by big margins after winning four straight there.
A victory in Denver against the AFC West champions seems unlikely – oddsmakers have made the Broncos 14- to 14 ½- point favorites – but it would give the Raiders a huge boost in momentum heading into the offseason. The Raiders would have broken their road hex, knocked off another team with a winning record and beaten a team that could be headed back to the Super Bowl.
“That’s the next step right now,” head coach Tony Sparano told the Bay Area media this week. “When you win three games at home like that, that says an awful lot. …. Take some of that energy, confidence and swagger that we have from home and bring it with us on the road.”
The Raiders and Jaguars are the only NFL teams without a road victory this season.
Rookie quarterback Derek Carr told Wagaman that a road win would be just one more positive step forward for a franchise trying to regain its winning ways.
“We’re trying to change the culture and we are, so even though it’s not been how we want it to be, we know that if we keep fighting, keep working hard, eventually it’s going to get there,” he said.