Two weeks after looking like potential AFC Championship threats, the Oakland Raiders may be the lowliest team in the postseason.
Through 15 weeks, the Raiders built a 12-3 record, leading the competitive AFC West.
Though the Raiders looked flawed, at times — overly reliant on Derek Carr’s arm, with a shabby defence, and two unimpressive outings against their division rivals, the Chiefs — they were nonetheless an intriguing young team with an explosive offence and enough defensive talent to put a scare into, say, the Patriots.
Two weeks later, the Raiders’ season appears all but done, thanks to two brutal injuries.
In Week 16, after three quarters of dominating the Colts, Derek Carr broke his leg on a fourth-quarter sack, ending his season. The Raiders then turned to backup Matt McGloin, who injured his shoulder in their Week 17 loss to the Broncos.
With McGloin questionable for Saturday, the Raiders will likely turn to Connor Cook, a rookie quarterback with no career starts, to lead them in the playoffs, on the road, against the Texans, the defence that allowed the fewest total yards and yards per game in the regular season.
In Week 17, Cook’s only action of the season, he played passably, throwing 150 yards on 14-of-21 passing with a touchdown and interception.
Carr, who was considered an MVP candidate up until his injury, could have his case bolstered by the Raiders’ performances without him. The Raiders didn’t score after he left the game in Week 16, and they managed just six points in Week 17. Though the latter was against the stingy Broncos’ defence, Carr and Co. put up 30 points against the Broncos in a Week 9 win. At times, this season, the Raiders’ plan seemed to simply let Carr will them to victory, like in a Week 8 overtime win against the Bucs, when Carr threw for a franchise record 513 yards.
Barring an unexpected breakout performance from Cook, the Raiders look like long-shots to make noise in the playoffs. Without Carr’s arm, the Raiders may have to rely on running back Latavius Murray and for the defence to create chances for them. It’s certainly possible they could pull off a win over the Texans, but at the time of year when teams most need a quarterback, the Raiders appear hopeless.
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