Can you believe we’re already here, to the home stretch of the 2019 season? It seemed like just yesterday we were awaiting the premiere of Hard Knocks…
Anyways, if you’ve been following along with this series, you’ll know that I’ve got the Oakland Raiders at 5-7 heading into this final four-game stretch. Depending on how a couple of teams turn out, this could be the easiest stretch of the season — or not. Either way, can the Raiders find three wins to end with a much-needed .500 record?
Week 14: vs. Tennessee Titans
Is there a more confusing team in the NFL than the Titans? They never seem to blow you away, and yet, they’re right there in the thick of the playoff hunt every season. In what might be Marcus Mariota’s final audition for the Titans (he’s in the final year of his rookie contract), I could see this team going any number of ways before this point in the season.
Could it be the down year it feels like they’ve been due for and maybe the Raiders catch them — at home — at the perfect time? Or, could the Titan defense continue to improve and impress, making this a slugfest in Oakland? The last time these two teams played was Week 1 of the 2017 season — with the Raiders traveling to Nashville for a 26-16 victory.
Week 15: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Like the Titans, I’ve got no clue what kind of team strolls into town for the final game in Oakland. This is a Jaguars team that is just one season removed from being among the league’s best teams. Then, last season, they imploded.
Enter Nick Foles. If the Jaguar defense can regain its 2017 form, and Foles can be a marked improvement over Blake Bortles (how hard could that be?), I think the Jaguars might be the league’s bounce-back team this season. Then again, the last time the Raiders thought they were playing in Oakland for the final time, they balled out against the Broncos and won 27-14.
Week 16: at Los Angeles Chargers
I guess if you want to say the Raiders throw away a home game every year by traveling internationally, the good news is they get it back every time they play the Chargers in Los Angeles. This game will be played just a few hours from the Raiders’ new Las Vegas pad, and so I’d expect this to be a fun one for the traveling Black Hole. (At least until the game starts)
Week 17: at Denver Broncos
What a way to bookend the season — with the Broncos. In my Week 1 write-up, I said that it was a borderline must-win game for the Raiders considering the stretch they’d have coming up. In Week 17? The NFL draft folks might be calling this a must-lose on account of draft position. Either way, traveling to Denver is always hard — but if the Denver quarterback situation is as much of a dumpster fire as I think it might be? This one could be steal-able.
Prediction: 3-1 (8-8 overall on the season)
What fun is it to just be negative all the time? I’m imagining a Titan season of regressing back to the mean, making that game winnable at home. Follow that up with Oakland’s final home game against the Jags and we’ll chalk up another win. As for where the third win comes from? Take your pick.
I’m guessing Denver will be tanking for a new quarterback at that point, while Gruden and Co. will be desperate to get to eight wins this season.