Oakland Raiders: Notes and Observations From Week Four

10 of 10

Oct 4, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Roy Helu (26) scores a touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Not All Hope Is Lost

After putting up a real stinker in week one, the Raiders came out fired up and inspired in week two. They played much better and much more consistently over the next two weeks. And the problem against the Bears seemed to be that they were indeed looking beyond Chicago to their date with Denver rather than being indicative of a bad team – we’ve seen them play much, much better football.

It’s understandable in a way, that Oakland found themselves getting prematurely pumped up for the Broncos game. There is – or rather, was – a lot on the line. If they’d been able to beat Chicago, they would have been battling for a share of first place in the division – and winning the AFC West has been one of their goals since Del Rio took over. First place is a spot the Raiders haven’t seen in quite some time, so it’s somewhat understandable that they were anxious to get to that – part of that is on the players, part of it is on Del Rio and his staff.

And unfortunately for them, they didn’t handle their business and now play host to Denver with perhaps slightly lower stakes. Rather than playing for a share of first place, the Raiders are fighting just to keep pace and to not fall three games behind the Broncos in the division race – which is most assuredly not a position they want to be in.

Division games are always tense, but this one will carry even a little more meaning as it will be Del Rio’s first game against his former team. Emotions are bound to be running high but it will be up to Del Rio and his staff to get Oakland to channel those emotions into useful and constructive ways – ways that can help them win on Sunday.

It will be a dogfight against the Broncos, for sure. But the Raiders have shown themselves capable of playing well and being a good football team. Most think that this will be yet another Denver blowout, but this is an Oakland squad that is different in every way than the Raiders teams that Denver was able to bulldoze over the last few seasons. They’re going to be a far tougher out and if Denver is going to beat them, the Raiders are going to make them work incredibly hard for it.

This is a Raiders team that can and will fight to the bitter end. And this is a Raiders team that believes they can win.

Next: Raiders Can't Overcome Slow Start, Miscues In Loss