It’s come down to the last Sunday of the season for the Silver and Black, as they take on the San Diego Chargers at the Black Hole.
What’s up for grabs?
An AFC West division title, a possible playoff birth with a Wild Card spot, or no postseason at all. With a number of multiple scenarios, Oakland needs some help to make it to the playoffs, but first they must help themselves out and secure a win.
The resiliency of Oakland has been a roller coaster ride for Raider Nation & Company, as they’ve dealt with a number of ”real life situations.” From the untimely death of their Hall of Fame owner Al Davis, to playing without key weapons on offense for large stretches of the season, to losing their division lead to the Denver Broncos with a three-game losing streak down the back stretch of the season, the Raiders have been an interesting squad, with a never die type of attitude.
But by going through all that adversity, the Raiders have somehow managed to give themselves a chance to “seize the moment.”
Oakland quarterback, Carson Palmer, has one final exam left to take, to see if he has finally figured out how to consistently be a leader for this football team. He had a great game against the Chargers in week 10, and he needs to duplicate that same performance to insure victory. Wide receiver Jacoby Ford, will play in today’s game, giving the Raiders another vertical playmaker.
There’s an outside chance that running back Darren McFadden, will play in Sunday’s ball game. If that’s the case, the Raiders will be at full strength for the first time in several weeks. If he’s not available, then running back Michael Bush, will have to muster up a similar outing from the last time they met, when he rushed for 157 yards and had 85 receiving yards. Bush is capable, but they need him to be consistent, so that they can win the time of possession battle against their arch-rivals.
Defensively, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, needs to have developed his best game plan of the year as they try to slow down the Chargers offense. Even though San Diego is not playing for a postseason birth, they damn sure don’t want the Raiders to make it to the playoffs either. Pro Bowl defensive tackle, Richard Seymour, must lead the troops to battle, as they need to dominate the line of scrimmage.
Untimely penalties are not needed, as the Raiders are 3 penalties and 10 yards away from breaking the record of most penalties and penalty yards in a season (Kansas City Chiefs, 1998). This aspect of the game could cost the Raiders everything, that’s why they have to play with an intense focus, with their eye on the prize, which is to win and make it to the playoffs.
The Pro Bowl connection of kicker Sebastian Janikowski, and punter Shane Lechler, will obviously be needed in obtaining a victory in Sunday’s contest. Whether it’s kicking a boat load of field goals, or pinning down opponents inside their own territory, you have to take advantage of all your weapons.
Head coach Hue Jackson, has the ultimate final exam, as he looks to lead the Raiders into the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Throughout the season, you’ve seen Jackson become a resilient leader for Oakland, something they haven’t had at that position since John Gruden. But has Jackson really learned how to win consistently as a NFL coach yet, more importantly, when it matters most?
In the famous words of Davis, and I’m sure Raider Nation echoes these sentiments loud and proudly, “Just Win Baby!” Will the Silver and Black be able to “seize the moment?” I guess the final grade will be determined Sunday evening.
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Written by Arthur Kai