Every team each year, except the Super Bowl winner and any team that goes winless, has a last win of the season. Often, these games constitute a peak in their campaign for the team that wins the game. The 14th week of a regular season is a common time for a team to have their last win if they just scored a big emotional triumph. For example, a couple years ago on December 11, the Miami Dolphins beat the New England Patriots in Florida. After that home win as a double-digit underdog, they closed out their season with three straight losses both straight-up and against the point spread.
Last year, the Dolphins did it again, downing the Super Bowl bound Patriots in Miami in Week 14, 34-33, and followed that victory up with three losses both straight-up and against the spread. A last win of the season can occur earlier too, the 2001 Carolina Panthers won on opening day as a double-digit road underdog against the Minnesota Vikings, and followed that emotional win with 15 straight losses.
Opening week seems pretty early for a last win, but when the Denver Broncos strung three wins together last season over the Chargers, Steelers and Bengals coming out of their Week 10 bye, they were done winning for the year and dropped their final four games both straight up and against the number.
Four weeks ago, the Oakland Raiders had an emotionally charged game that could have represented their last win of 2019. With a sold out Monday Night Football crowd on hand for the final primetime love affair between their team and fans, Oakland scored late to beat the Los Angeles Chargers.
Since that game, the Raiders have lost three straight point spread decisions and are underdogs at home this week to the Tennessee Titans. But, while the Raiders have lost three straight to the point spread, they didn’t lose the game following that win over the Chargers. Instead, the Raiders treated their home fans to one more win, albeit against the winless Cincinnati Bengals, 17-10.
It means something that the Raiders were able to win that game, when the situation dictated a Bengals victory.
It also meant they were sitting ducks for the next couple weeks on the road, losses to the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs by lopsided scores, 34-3 and 40-9, respectively.
While the Raiders have struggled in recent weeks, their opponent this Sunday has gained new life and respect behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill. The new Tennessee Titans starter played his first seven professional seasons in Miami before joining Tennessee as Marcus Mariota’s backup this year.
When Mariota was horrible, and the Titans were shutout at Denver in his last start, 16-0, head coach Mike Vrabel turned to the veteran backup. Instant success. Tannehill has guided Tennessee to within a game of the AFC South Division leading Houston Texans while winning five of his six starts.
Last week, while leading the Titans to a third straight win, the final score is not indicative of the closeness of the game. The newspaper on Monday morning said the Titans won by two touchdowns over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium, 31-17. What isn’t reflected in that final score, is that Indianapolis had a would-be go-ahead fourth quarter field goal blocked and returned for a Titans touchdown. The final score of the game came after the Colts threw a late pass in desperation that was intercepted.
Suffice it to say, the game in Indianapolis was a lot closer than the final score might suggest.
But, from a motivational perspective, a win by too many points is a lot more crippling for prospects the following week than a straight-up loss. Had Tennessee lost last week to the Colts, then the Raiders would have their hands full on Sunday.
But, given the Raiders have already proven they can win in a bad spot, like they did three weeks ago versus Cincinnati, they can certainly win in a good spot following back-to-back blowout losses.
Which means this, one team is in trouble in Oakland this week, but it is not the one many might think, but rather the bet-on favorite.
Qoxhi Picks: Oakland Raiders (+3) over Tennessee Titans