Oakland Raiders just win baby

Louis LaVenture,

As a lifelong Raider fan, I keep waiting for the bad break.

For the past 15 years, Oakland hasn’t posted a winning record and it always seems like something bad happens to the team: a bad call, an injury to an important player, a high draft pick doesn’t live up to expectations; it’s always something.

It seemed like things were going to fall apart again last week when third-year quarterback and Fresno native Derek Carr dislocated the pinky finger on his throwing hand when the ball snapped into it in the third quarter of the home game against the defending NFC champion, Carolina Panthers.

Backup quarterback and veteran Matt McGloin came in and Oakland began to sputter on offense, resulting in 14 consecutive points by the Panthers. However, Carr came back and helped the team hold off Carolina for a close 35-32 victory. Following the win, Carr seemed irritated with reporters who asked about his injury. His response to all injury questions: “I’m fine, thanks for asking.”

Last week was more of the same when the silver and black hosted the Buffalo Bills. Oakland was in control for much of the game before Buffalo stormed back in the third quarter and put up a couple of touchdowns to take the lead.

It looked like the Raiders luck was starting to run out but the team rallied and responded with 29 unanswered points to win the game 38 to 24 and improve to 10-2 overall. Those bad breaks just aren’t happening this year and unlike years past, they are finishing games and putting teams away.

It has a lot to do with the high draft picks they accumulated while the team was bad. In the NFL, the draft order is determined by overall record, with the worst team picking first in each of the seven rounds and the super bowl champion picking last in each round.

Oakland was so bad for so long that they acquired a slew of high draft picks that are flourishing and becoming stars in a league built on star power. In addition to Carr, defensive end Khalil Mack is also becoming a household name in the football world. On Tuesday the NFL announced the leaders in the pro bowl voting, a fan-voted system that determines which players start in the annual all-star game of sorts for the league. Mack leads all AFC players at defensive end with 279,466 votes.

Five other Raiders are leading vote-getters at their positions as well. Those players include fullback Jamize Olawale with 169,509, tackle Donald Penn with 118,863, guard Kelechi Osemele with 118,666, free safety Reggie Nelson with 82,819 and punter Marquette King with 138,640.

The Raiders are tied for the second-best record in the league with the New England Patriots and both teams only trail the Dallas Cowboys, who are a nearly perfect 11-1 so far this year.

Oakland has a short week as they play in the Thursday night game against AFC West rival, the Kansas City Chiefs, on the road at Arrowhead Stadium. This game will go a long way in determining the conference champion, as Kansas City beat the Raiders in Oakland in their previous matchup on Oct. 16, 26-10. The chiefs are 9-3 this year and in second place in the division behind Oakland.

“I think you do the best you can to recover as we begin our preparations,” head coach Jack Del Rio said in a press conference following the game. “That’s just part of it. I know late in my career, if you played on a Thursday, you’re going to take some soreness into the game, typically. The older guys for sure. Some of the younger guys even.”