The Oakland Raiders traveled to Tennessee and beat the Titans in a game they likely would have lost in prior years. With only two wins, the Titans have the worst record in the NFL this season (barring the results of tonight’s game between the Browns and Ravens) and one would have liked to think that this was a game the Raiders should win. The problem is, heading into the game, the Raiders were on a three-game losing streak and looked a fraction of the team that appeared playoff-ready against the San Diego Chargers and New York Jets.
Sunday’s win against the Titans was a great example of exactly where the Raiders are. They are better than a struggling Titans team, but not necessarily by a whole lot. The win didn’t come easy for the Raiders and one could argue that if not for a phantom holding call that gave the Raiders a first down late in the fourth quarter, they would not have won.
However, the Raiders are better than the Titans. They looked better on the field and showed up better in the box score as well. They traveled to Tennessee after traveling to Detroit the week before and still played hard enough to overcome their mistakes.
With 11 games under their belts, I think it’s safe to say that this Raiders team is not as bad as it looked in the Cincinnati Bengals or Minnesota Vikings games. But it’s also safe to say they aren’t as good as they looked in the Chargers and Jets games either.
They are a tier above the bottom dwellers of the NFL and have proven as much with wins over almost every bad team they’ve faced. The Raiders beat the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Tennessee Titans but lost to the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. Though, since the Raiders lost to the Bears, that team has turned out to be much better than we originally thought and do not look like bottom dwellers anymore. Likewise, the Lions have won three straight and are starting to figure things out.
The Raiders are not progressing as quickly as some had hoped after seeing the potential of this offense, but they aren’t regressing. There are holes that need to be filled and adjustments that need to be made, but for the first time in a long time, the Raiders appear to be headed firmly in the right direction. They can potentially reach .500 this season, which would be a huge step forward and a sign that they might be able to compete in 2016.
It may not be great. Yet for the Raiders, being able to state confidently that they aren’t one of the league’s bottom dwellers is an important step forward.