Although the Raiders do not see the Patriots during the regular season, the thought of Foxboro is in the back of their minds. For almost twenty seasons, the Patriots controlled the AFC. By winning five titles in eight tries, New England set the standard for excellence. In 2018, that still holds true. Despite an improving conference, the Raiders will still need to see the Patriots this winter. If people are honest, no better way exists. In a new series, FPC Raiders, along with FPC Patriots will delve into this potential rivalry.
First, the time to let go of the Tuck Rule is now. Granted, anyone with eyes and common sense knows that Tom Brady fumbled the ball. In addition, Greg Biekert recovered it and the Raiders should have won. Yet, through idiocy, that did not occur. On the other hand, sixteen years feels like an appropriate mourning period and time to move on.
The debacle in Mexico signaled the end for many aspects of the Raiders under Reggie McKenzie. First, Ken Norton finally saw a pink slip. Next, the team fell flat and looked hopeless versus an elite team. Somewhere, the Gruden drumbeat began to resonate louder. In that game, Tom Brady picked the Raiders apart. Oakland looked 4-12 pathetic that Sunday afternoon. Meanwhile, the Patriots conducted business as usually. For fans, that game served as a brutal reminder of what facing a top team feels like.
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With faded memories a part of the past, the Raiders need to approach this season as a litmus test. In essence, if everything plays out the way most anticipate, the AFC title game will hopefully take place in Oakland or Foxboro. Between now and then, each team must conquer their schedule and possibly lock up a playoff sports. For New England, that is an automatic. With the Raiders, navigating the AFC West looks like a struggle. Yet, this is why Jon Gruden roams the sidelines.
Before anyone throws out the “looking too far ahead” statement, realize one thing: it’s still June. Honestly, Week 1 also counts as looking too far ahead. Under those circumstances, why not fast forward to the good parts?
In the next installment, we will discuss how the Raiders need to attack Tom Brady.