When a team begins the season 1-4, the following weeks exist solely to evaluate where the team is headed.
Many had lofty expectations for the Raiders—hoping for nothing less than an 8-8 season. At 1-4, however, those expectations were called into question.
So last week, the Black Hole watched in anticipation to see what type of team the 2012 Oakland Raiders is.
Would they cave and accept another disappointing season? Or would they capitalize on the opportunity to play a series of weak opponents that could get them back into the playoff picture?
Unfortunately, even one week later, the answers remain foggy.
On one hand, the Raiders did what they needed to do—they beat the Jaguars. On the other hand, however, beating arguably the worst team in the league in overtime at home—and needing a big comeback to do it—isn't exactly inspiring.
With 12:40 remaining in last week's game, the Raiders trailed the Jags by 10 points. To clarify, this was a Jacksonville team that lost Maurice Jones-Drew after just two carries; Jacksonville had been playing with Blaine Gabbert's backup since early in the second quarter.
Exactly. Not pretty.
And yet, here was a team that was 1-4 on the season and could have just put their heads down and accepted another loss, but they didn't.
Behind Carson Palmer, the Raiders rallied for 13 straight points in the fourth quarter and overtime to seal the win and move to within just one game of the divisional lead.
Will the Raiders make the playoffs?
So, once again, seven days later, the Oakland Raiders are faced with the same question they were faced with heading into the game against Jacksonville: Will the real Oakland Raiders please stand up?
This week, the opponent is the equally futile Kansas City Chiefs—who have yet to hold a lead at any point this season. Once again, Oakland is expected to win, but if they fall behind early, late-game comebacks can't be counted on every week this season.
While part of me wants to believe the optimism and hope I entered the season with will be validated as this team gets healthy and continues to adapt to their new roles and schemes, I don't know how many more frustrating snaps I can take before I give up.
So Oakland, you're on watch. Another win this week, and the hope remains, but a loss? Then, it might be time to throw in the towel.