While this wild ride of an NFL season is not yet over, there is never a bad time to remember where we came from. From the moment Hard Knocks left the facilities and the 52-man roster was set, the Raiders appeared discombobulated but angry. Things had not gone their way in the preseason, and doubters and projections of 4-12 recorders could be found at any street corner. Confusion about the team’s identity swept through RaiderNation.
The Raiders kicked off the season in the late slot on Monday Night Football against the Denver Broncos. The Raiders came out angry and ready to prove themselves and beat the Broncos at the Coliseum 24-16.
Following the high-adrenaline victory, the Raiders quickly suffered back-to-back double-digit losses to the Chiefs and Vikings, tanking the team’s confidence. But the Raiders came back fighting and would beat the Indianapolis Colts on the road in a proving game. The Raiders would travel to London to square off with the Chicago Bears, a game the Raiders would also win, bringing their record to 3-2 heading into the Bye Week. After the bye, the Raiders would get blown out by the Green Bay Packers and lose a close one to the Houston Texans.
After falling to 3-4, the Raiders appeared to hit their stride and would beat the Chargers, Lions, and Bengals in their next three games to improve to 6-4. At this point, the Raiders controlled their own destiny for the Wild Card. Since then, the Raiders have lost four straight games. Perhaps the ridiculously unfortunate travel schedule has worn the team down. Perhaps the team is not ready for high pressure situations.
Whatever it may be, this season can teach many lessons. We have seen the Raiders compete against good teams. There has been a lot of promise with this team. No one expected them to be sitting at 6-4 at one point during the season. Many projections had the team finishing last in the AFC West. The point being made is that if the team can continue trending in this direction, with the worst-case scenario being the team repeats their 6-10 record from last year, there is success on the horizon.
Coincidentally, Mike Mayock’s first draft with the Raiders is being regarded as one of the best draft classes of all time. The Raiders still possess the Bears’ first round pick, giving them two this year. There are many chances for this team to improve in Las Vegas. Yes, this season is disappointing, but the future is incredibly promising. The Raiders have an impressive amount of pieces in place and falling into place to succeed in the coming years.