For a NFL franchise like Oakland Raiders, the last few years have made for pretty grim reading. But it seems that things are finally changing for this much-loved football team. Oakland Raiders have made a positive start to their 2019/20 campaign, and with one of the most charismatic coaches on their side, they are now looking good to make the playoffs this time around.
However, all Oakland Raiders fans will know that good things tend not to last too long. But with an excellent recent win over Chicago Bears in London and a suddenly Mahomes-less Kansas City Chiefs, Jon Gruden’s team might just have what it takes to make it to the top of the AFC West.
It’s a great change of form for a team who had a fairly ramshackle preseason. Much of the attention was directed over the antics of new player Antonio Brown. For a while it looked like Brown would be the star player that the Raiders needed to boost their feeble offence.
But as the summer wore on, Brown’s behaviour put big question marks over the signing. From turning up to training sessions in a hot air balloon, to refusing to wear the regulation helmet, Brown quickly estranged himself from the Raiders team and found his way to being booted out to New England Patriots.
While such controversy might have broken lesser teams, their head coach Jon Gruden has shown the strength of character needed to shrug off such setbacks. Things started very positively with a handsome 24-16 win over Denver Broncos, and it showed that Raiders quarterback Derek Carr had the skill and the temperament to guide his team to victory.
Following this, Oakland Raiders suffered an unsurprising 10-28 defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs. With Patrick Mahomes in the quarterback role, it was unsurprising to see many of the betting sites featured here giving short odds for the Chiefs to be real Super Bowl contenders.
But Mahomes recently suffered a nasty knee injury that could put him out of action for over a month, the Raiders now have the perfect chance to race ahead of their AFC West rivals. Although Gruden’s team suffered another setback when they were rounded beaten 34-14 by the Minnesota Vikings, they have shown an impressive resolve in recent weeks.
This was first witnessed when they managed to win 24-31 at Indianapolis Colts. Although the Colts aren’t one of the stronger teams this year, it was the fact that the Raiders held on to their lead to win their second NFL game of the year that really impressed.
Defensive stars like Tahir Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner played excellently, and the Raiders offence finally looked to have achieved a decent balance between running and passing the ball. But the Raiders faced one of their toughest tests yet when they travelled to the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in London to take on the mighty Chicago Bears.
The Bears are well known for having one of the most feared defences in the NFL. However, the Raiders’ running game couldn’t be contained and Gruden’s team performed heroically to cling on to a 24-21 win.
In particular it was the Raiders running back Joshua Jacobs who was the star of the show having picked up two touchdowns and 123 yards in an outstanding performance for the 21-year old.
The visit to London will have done much to boost morale in a Raiders team that was probably still bearing the scars of the Antonio Brown scandal. But with a tough test this weekend against Green Bay Packers, it seems that Gruden’s team still have plenty of work to do.
Thankfully neither Los Angeles Chargers or Denver Broncos should give the Raiders much trouble in the AFC West. If the Raiders can just climb ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs, they could be one of the surprise packages of this season’s NFL.