A look at the first two weeks in the NFL for the Oakland Raiders, who feature several California high school grads in key roles, including head coach Jack Del Rio, quarterback Derek Carr and running back Marshawn Lynch.
After a preseason that the Oakland Raiders would like to forget, the team has hit its stride when it counts and are starting to look like a threatening team once again.
The Raiders made their first playoffs appearance last year since 2002 when they went down to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-48 in Super Bowl XXXVII, and their loyal supporters are hoping for big things from the club this season.
Last year, head coach Jack Del Rio (a Hayward High alum) and team had to qualify for the playoffs by snatching up one of the wildcards to make the cut, even though their win/loss record was equal with Kansas City. The Chiefs had a better showing with their divisional stats and that booked them a place straight into the second round. It’s going to be extremely tight once again this season and the latest NFL odds on bet365 have the two teams as equal favorites to win the division on +175.
It does seem as though bookmakers are swinging towards the Raiders, though, as they are +1200 to win the Super Bowl while the Chiefs are sitting back at +1600. This is a positive sign for the team and hopefully it can secure a divisional playoff spot this year rather than entering through a wildcard position.
The start of the campaign was a bit of a nightmare for Oakland as it slumped to four consecutive defeats, losing all of the preseason games. However, their worst losing margin was by only 10 points against the Arizona Cardinals with the other three losses by a mere four points or less. Although preseason results mean next to nothing, a few of the Silver and Black faithful were starting to get a little worried.
But, once the regular season kicked off the Raiders came out with all guns blazing and have locked in back-to-back wins in their first two games. The first came at the expense of the Tennessee Titans, who they overcame 26-16 and the second against the Jets where they demolished the New York team by 45 points to 20.
One of the players that has been instrumental so far this season is the speedy Michael Crabtree. His career revival continues to flourish at Oakland after six injury ridden seasons with the San Francisco 49ers. The connection between Crabtree and quarterback Derek Carr (Bakersfield Christian alum) has become beautiful to watch recently and it seems as though the No. 15 is still his preferred choice out wide. Even though there are younger and faster options on the flank such as Amari Cooper, who was predicted to become Carr’s first choice receiver, it seems as though the bond with Crabtree remains too strong. New Raiders’ running back Marshawn Lynch (Oakland Tech grad) also has been making a huge difference with his power inside runs.
The wide receiver was in devastating form in the second game of the season against the Jets. He scored three touchdowns during the game, including one from the 26-yard line, as well as catching all six passes thrown his way and finished with an impressive 80 yards.
After the game while speaking with the press, many of Crabtree’s teammates applauded the veteran player for his outstanding performance and ability to motivate the rest of the team to be at the top of its game. If Oakland can continue to pump out displays such as this, it is going to be a major contender for Super Bowl LII.