Is It Officially Time to Hit the Panic Button on Oakland Raiders Franchise?

Thomas Galicia@thomasgaliciaContributor IINovember 4, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 04: Marcel Reece #45 of the Oakland Raiders looks to put a move on Ronde Barber #20 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of their NFL football game at Coliseum on November 4, 2012 in Oakland, California. The Buccaneers won the game 42-32. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland Raiders had looked very good in their last two weeks, winning two consecutive games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars to move their record up to 3-4.

Oakland was only one game behind the Denver Broncos in the AFC West, and one game out of the AFC's playoff race behind the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis Colts, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Their Week 9 contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a must-win game, for they knew going into it that Denver had already beaten the Cincinnati Bengals, the winner of Dolphins-Colts (which would be Indianapolis) would move up to 5-3 and the Steelers had an important game against the New York Giants.

Despite the stakes, the Raiders still wound up losing 42-32 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and in the process gave up 515 total yards (including 251 yards on the ground to Doug Martin).

Now standing at 3-5, the Raiders are now two games back of Denver in the AFC West, two back of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh for the final wild-card spot (which is a pity as they own the tiebreaker over the Steelers) and one game back of Miami (who own the tiebreaker over the Raiders).

It might be time to hit the panic button from Oakland, at least that's how it looks right now. But the saving grace for the Raiders is the fact that their schedule does get a tad easier from here out, and their offense, while turnover prone, can move the ball well.

The Raiders only have three games left all season against teams at .500 or above, with the only downside being the fact that they've already lost to two of those teams (the 4-4 San Diego Chargers and the 5-3 Broncos), and have to play two of these games on the road (one against San Diego, the other comes next week against the Baltimore Ravens).

If Oakland can go at least 2-1 in those three games, they will be in very good shape. Their other games on the schedule include the New Orleans Saints and their laughable defense, the struggling Cincinnati Bengals and a beyond-awful triumvirate known as the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Carolina Panthers.

Cleveland and Kansas City will be home games for Oakland, as will New Orleans. They'll have to travel east to play Cincinnati and Carolina, but both of those teams have struggled greatly this season whether they are at home or on the road.

It's not time to panic yet in Oakland despite their 3-5 record and a few bad losses against Miami, San Diego and Denver. But the Raiders will need to get some help. In order to finish at 9-7 (which should make the playoffs in the mediocre AFC), they can't do any worse than 6-2 to close out the season.

While it is a daunting task, it is a possible one for Oakland. They're in a situation where they will have to beat the teams their favored against, then pull off at least one upset.

It's a tough road, but no reason to panic. Oakland can still fight their way back into the playoff race, but it will take a lot of things going their way on the field, and off the field with the other AFC contenders.

Stranger things have happened though in the NFL's history. Don't sound that alarm just yet.