“Our task as men is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks men take a long time to accomplish, that’s all.”
—Albert Camus, “The Almond Trees”
We have to be moderate here. The Raiders are not back.
The Raiders’ odds of making the playoffs this season are not very good. They have a killer schedule the rest of the way, having to go to Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and San Diego, not to mention tough home dates with Miami and Indianapolis. I don’t see them winning more than one of those games.
But we also have to understand how low Oakland had fallen these last seven years. Not only were the Raiders never in the playoffs, they were never in playoff contention. They hadn’t won three in a row since 2002, hadn’t been over .500 in November since 2002. As bad as the Bills and Lions have been in that stretch, they’ve at least had years that looked promising. Buffalo was 4-0 two years ago; Detroit was 6-2 three seasons ago.
Not the Raiders. Here are Oakland’s records through nine games in each of the last seven seasons: 2-7, 2-7, 2-7, 2-7, 3-6, 3-6, 2-7. So when we say they haven’t been over .500 in November since 2002, we also have to point out that they haven’t been .500 in November since 2002. They haven’t been within a game of being .500 in November since 2002.
It’s one thing for a proud franchise to be bad; it’s another for it to be irrelevantly so. This is the difference between Scott Layden and Isiah Thomas. Irrelevance to a franchise such as the Raiders is an embarrassment, and it was irrelevance that drove Al Davis to become crazier and crazier these last few years.
So Oakland, you may not be “back” back. But you’re relevant again. And that’s what’s important.
Who had Jacoby Ford having more of an impact this season than Clemson teammate C.J. Spiller? Especially considering that the Bills’ offense is actually good? Ford had the dynamic kick return and then two huge catches to bring Oakland back and then put it ahead. The catch at the end of regulation to set up Sebastian Janikowski’s game-tying field goal might be the best I’ve seen this season.
My dad on Tom Cable: “I don’t know if he’s a good coach, but this guy sure looks like he should be coaching the Raiders.”
While the AFC West is looking better, you can’t say the same about the NFC West. The Niners are still not out of it.
I enjoyed Bernie Miklasz’s dissection of Steve Spagnuolo’s decision to pass on Randy Moss (c/o Peter King). This just makes me think more and more that Spagnuolo is going to work out very well for the Rams, the upcoming Team of the Decade.
I’ll write more about Dallas after this week’s contest with the Giants, when I’ll have more of a feel for where the Cowboys are going and less of a fear of jinxing anything.
The Packers are starting to come around. I think we’ll look back at their first few weeks as aberrational.
With their 35-0 halftime lead on Seattle, the Giants had outscored the Seahawks 106-6 over the last seven quarters the two teams had played.
I told you about the Patriots. I don’t think they’re any better than last year’s team. They still can’t run the ball, and their defense isn’t the shutdown unit it was earlier in the decade.
I do like what I’m seeing from Cleveland. Those blowouts of New Orleans and New England will likely be the two best back-to-back wins accrued by any team this season. Plus, they ran a trick play I can get behind.
When Ndamukong Suh missed that extra point, you knew it was going to haunt Detroit. You knew it.
In theory alone, I don’t know how the Jets offense can go that long without scoring against two mediocre defenses. I don’t think the Jets are as bad as they’ve looked the last two weeks, but I no longer know whether they’re as good as they looked before that. And this is the de facto Jets Bash of the Week.
Chiefs Plug of the Week: Oakland needed OT to beat them at home, meaning you have to like KC to win the rematch at Arrowhead and take both from Denver. That would give them eight wins (five in the division) with additional games hosting Arizona and at St. Louis. If they get to 9-7 with five division wins, it’ll be very tough for San Diego to pass them.
With each passing week, the distance between the Bills and the next-best 0-x team of all-time gets greater and greater.
I’m pretty sure at this point that the Dolphins are the “good team that doesn’t put it together” this season. Miami’s schedule has been very difficult and gets a lot easier, but I suspect the Dolphins will be looking back at those home losses to the Jets, Pats, and Steelers early in the year as what kept them out of the playoffs. (I don’t mean this in an If only we had won all three… case but rather an If only we grabbed ONE of those….)
I don’t know whether Philip Rivers is the MVP of the league. I do know he’s really good.
But also that I would still take Eli Manning over him.
The Bucs made the right call in going for it on that 4th down late in the game inside the five. They even made the right call in giving it to LeGarrette Blount. But the weird fake-to-the-fullback action messed up the timing between Freeman and Blount and meant the running back had zero momentum hitting the line of scrimmage. Just give him the ball and let him do his thing.
And really Brian Billick? You thought he got there?
Tampa Bay showed me something there by competing in the Georgia Dome. Don’t have to strain hard to see them as a 6-seed come January heading back to Atlanta.
10. San Diego
7. Kansas City
5. New England
3. New York