So the Raiders, having won four of their last five games and three in a row heading into the bye, had some momentum and looked better than they had in many, many years. Optimism abounded.
During the bye week, the Chargers and the Chiefs both lost, and the Raiders' upcoming opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Miami Dolphins, suffered significant injuries that would make them vulnerable to the Raider attack. Things were looking good for the 'ol Raider squad.
Then, Coach Tom Cable, during the bye week, had a wild idea. "Step inside this DeLorean, gentleman," he said, "and let's see where it takes us."
Well apparently it took them back to 2006, because that's the Raider team we've seen on the field since the bye week ended two weeks ago. Boring, uninspired, uncreative and downright horrifying to watch.
The last two games, this team was pads and shells of its former self. Not since the Tom Walsh bed-and-breakfast fiasco has this team looked so inept so often on offense for consecutive weeks, with viable personnel on the field.
Hey, at least in years past we had JaMarcus Russell and his terribleness to blame, fair or not. But Jason Campbell isn't always terrible, so it's hard to pinpoint the offensive struggles on him. No, instead, the team has returned to playing flat, uninspired, boring football that sees them lose in spectacular fashion all while seeming like they didn't even play most of the game.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is the San Diego Chargers, a team that struggled mightily earlier in the season while trying to get over injuries and shore up their special teams. Well, the Chargers have hit their typical late season roll, and have revenge on their minds in San Diego this weekend. They also have a weak schedule and a very realistic shot at taking over the Chiefs for the AFC West lead (which the Raiders have played themselves out of the last two weeks).
Bottom line: Oakland is struggling and regressing, San Diego is surging and improving, and this game is in San Diego, where Oakland hasn't won since Angelina Jolie was actually good looking.
Not much positive to look at if you consider recent weeks, but the Raiders have played quite well in the division this year, currently sitting at 3-0. If they can somehow win this game, they can stay in the hunt, but a loss surely dooms them to another offseason of what ifs and what nows.