Following back-to-back 8-8 seasons, the Raiders entered 2012 with expectations of having just as good of a shot at winning the division as the Broncos, San Diego Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs. But at the season's midway point, hopes are fading fast.
However, it is obvious the Raiders have a ways to go before creeping their way up the hierarchy of the NFL's elite.
Head coach Dennis Allen is doing a respectable job in his first season, and there are a handful of pieces to continue building this franchise around—running back Darren McFadden, wide receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore and Rolando McClain, Richard Seymour, Tyvon Branch, Philip Wheeler and Michael Huff on the defensive side of the ball.
However, consistency has hampered the Raiders. And with a road game next week against the Baltimore Ravens followed by a home game with the New Orleans Saints looming, this team must gain some stability before this season becomes a huge disappointment.
With the Broncos taking control in the West and the Chargers a much more refined inconsistent product, the Raiders should see a potential third-place finish in the division as a mild success. What this team must not do, however, is let this season spiral completely out of control.
By continuing to place his stamp within the Raiders organization, Allen must instill his brand of football on the entire roster and his coaching staff. By doing so, Oakland might find a certain steadiness this franchise has missed recently.
If the Raiders can spend the rest of this season getting on the same page—from ownership all the way down to the 53rd man on the roster—their record at the end of the season won't be a true indicator of where the organization is headed.