Oakland Raiders Are Literally The Rodney Dangerfield Of The NFL


Et tu, EA Sports?

The Oakland Raiders have quite literally become the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL. To paraphrase the late comedian, the Raiders “don’t get no respect.” And if there was any argument about that, we can and should go ahead and lay that to rest now, given the release of EA Sports’ video game, “Madden ’16”.

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Ordinarily, the release of a video game shouldn’t draw as much attention as “Madden ’16” is currently garnering as it relates to real world NFL football. But given the cultural significance of the Madden franchise, it seems worth mentioning – at least as an amusing anecdote – that the folks over at EA Sports who designed the game obviously think very little of Oakland’s improvements this year given the fact that they have picked the Raiders to not only be the worst in their own division, but the worst in their immediate geographic location as well.

That’s right, Raider Nation, the braintrust at EA Sports has slotted the San Francisco 49ers and their horribly tumultuous offseason of misery to finish better than the Raiders and their vast upgrades and relatively smooth offseason.

According to the ratings listed in “Madden ’16”, the Raiders will finish dead last in the AFC West, by quite a margin, actually. The game’s projected ratings for the division stack up like this:

1. Denver Broncos: 89 overall
2. Kansas City Chiefs: 82 overall
3. San Diego Chargers: 82 overall
4. Oakland Raiders: 74 overall

While they aren’t predicting that the 49ers are going to be hyper-competitive in an increasingly tough NFC West, the “Madden ’16” projections for the division play out like this:

1. Seattle Seahawks: 91 overall
2. Arizona Cardinals: 82 overall
3. San Francisco 49ers: 78 overall
4. St. Louis Rams 78: overall

The folks who put the game together provided a little insight into how they are viewing San Francisco.

"“The 49ers weathered a storm of change in the offseason, but they retained a few quality players to continue onward. The play of QB Colin Kaepernick (81 OVR) will determine whether or not San Francisco remains a contender in the NFC West.”"

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Obviously, they didn’t watch too much of Kaepernick’s play last season – or his less than stellar play thus far in the preseason, despite all of his offseason mechanical “improvements.” Which makes pinning the hopes of the franchise on his arm and how he plays – iffy. At best.

The 49ers had one of the most horrible offseasons endured by an NFL franchise – quick, can anybody name a team that’s had a worse offseason? Somewhat expected and totally unexpected retirements by Justin Smith, Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, and Anthony Davis, along with key free agent departures like Michael Crabtree, Mike Iupati, Chris Culliver, and Perrish Cox among others — and let’s not forget the arrest and subsequent release of sack machine Aldon Smith — that collectively, have left the 49ers scrambling for answers at quite a few key positions.

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  • Add to that recipe of misery, the fact that Jim Tomsula steps in as a rookie head coach – no, his one game as an interim head coach doesn’t count as experience – and the aforementioned poor season by Kaepernick with questions about how he will fare this year still swirling around him, and San Francisco has more questions than answers at this point. A lot more.

    Now compare that the relatively tranquil and serene offseason Oakland has had in which they brought in a head coach with actual experience, and some success on the NFL level. Jack Del Rio in turn brought in a coaching staff with more than a century’s worth of combined coaching experience in the pro game – which is a serious step forward over Oakland’s previous coaching regimes.

    They also added talent up and down the roster such as wide receiver Amari Cooper, veteran receiver Michael Crabtree, one of the best centers in the NFL in Rodney Hudson, run stuffers Dan Williams, Curtis Lofton, and Malcolm smith, young, versatile tight end Clive Walford, to go along with a core of solid young talent like Khalil Mack, Sio Moore, and of course, Derek Carr.

    On paper, the Raiders look like the better team. Of course, it all translates to how the teams perform on the field, so let’s take a look at that.

    Back in week 14 of the 2014 season – long before the 49ers had any inkling of the tumultuous offseason that was headed their way and long before the Raiders had one of the most productive offseasons in recent memory – the two teams hooked up for a regular season game.

    The 49ers were still loaded with talent as they hadn’t yet suffered the mass exodus of the offseason, and the Raiders were still scuffling along with a roster that was slowly improving, but was still light years behind this season’s squad.

    The Raiders flat out dominated every facet of the game in whipping the 49ers 24-13, and proving that they are indeed the better team in the Bay Area. That win more or less put a dagger in the hearts of San Francisco’s playoff hopes and was accomplished by a team that was considered inferior in every way by most pundits around the country.

    And yet despite that, and despite the respective offseasons both have had, the brain trust at EA Sports still thinks the 49ers are a better team than the Raiders, and will post a better season.

    Oh, okay. That makes a lot of sense.

    But, until they begin winning consistently, the Raiders will still – like Rodney Dangerfield – continue to get no respect. The “folks in the know” will still continue to to believe the Raiders are a “child so ugly, that they have to tie a pork chop around their necks just to get the dog to play with them.”

    But that’s okay. The Raiders and their loyal fans are used to – and perhaps even like on some level – being considered the underdog and exceeding people’s expectations. And most will tell you that the Raiders will be – by far – the best team in the Bay Area in 2015.

    EA Sports – and everybody else who doubts it – be damned.

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