The Oakland Raiders were oh so close to moving into the top spot in the AFC West Division on Monday night. Following their Sunday victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, 17-10, if the Los Angeles Chargers had beaten the Kansas City Chiefs in Mexico on Monday, the Raiders would have crept ahead of Patrick Mahomes and his juggernaut offense.
Then, a highly suspect Kansas City defense, picked off Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers in the final minute in the end zone, their fourth interception of the game, and preserved the victory and a hold on first place, 24-17.
Can you imagine how excruciating that was for a Raiders team that had also beaten Rivers and his Chargers two weeks ago to get into position to make a run at the top spot? This is an Oakland squad that in Jon Gruden’s first year back as head coach had won only three games last season.
So close, yet so far away.
Has anything like that ever happened to you in your life? You know, you want something really bad, get in position that you may get it, and then fall just a little short. It is particularly agonizing when you realize that what you wanted, what you strived for, was always destined to fall out of your reach.
Well, that is what the Oakland franchise is going through this week.
Despite making a run at the top spot, they know in their heart-of-hearts that the Chiefs are the best team in their division. They also know, if put to the test of a lie detector, that at least two other AFC teams are more likely to fill the Wild Card spots available for teams earning a playoff spot without a division win.
It would be a storybook ending for the Raiders if their last season in Oakland, they will begin play next year in Las Vegas, was capped for their rabid fan based with a Super Bowl win … or at least a playoff appearance. And, admittedly, their results this season have fueled those prospects.
But, alas, this is the NFL, not a Hollywood sound stage, and the Raiders final year in Oakland will end like so many recent seasons for the franchise once pinned to the Commitment to Excellence slogan … with a thud.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s meet again on Sunday night to discuss the prospect of the Raiders cracking the postseason field … after their game this Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the New York Jets.
In his first season at the helm of New York, Jets’ Head Coach Adam Gase had trouble getting off the ground. New York lost their first four games before their initial win under his leadership on October 13 against the Dallas Cowboys.
Isn’t Dallas a pretty good team and leaders in the NFC East Division?
Well then how did the then winless Jets beat Jerry Jones’ franchise?
They did it because the Cowboys rode into town thinking an easy win was certain.
After that victory over the Cowboys, the Jets crashed with three more losses, namely against the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins. That defeat on the road to Miami came while the Jets were favored on the point spread and represented the Dolphins first win of the season.
It also was rock bottom for New York, who followed that game with wins the last two weeks over the New York Giants and the Washington Redskins. Now, in search of a third straight victory, New York hosts the Raiders, who come to town thinking, like Dallas did, that a win is just 60 minutes of game clock away.
Oh so close to moving into the top spot in their division, and now, for the Raiders, it is fade to black.
Qoxhi Picks: New York Jets (+3) over Oakland Raiders