Oakland Raiders: 2015 Season Finale Far From “Irrelevant”


The Oakland Raiders wrap up their 2015 season this Sunday against division rival Kansas City in a game that still has plenty of relevance.

The Oakland Raiders wrap up their 2015 season in Arrowhead Stadium, taking on Kansas City. The Chiefs are still battling for a division title. While win or lose, the Raiders are heading home after this game, their season done – a thirteenth straight non-playoff year for the Silver and Black.

Oakland’s season will be over come Sunday night, but despite that fact, it’s still a game with a lot of meaning.

Unless of course, you’re Jonathan George of NFL Spinzone. If you were, you’d declare this game to have zero relevance or importance whatsoever – just like he did.

Wrote George:

"“Sadly, the game in Oakland’s case has become completely irrelevant. You might be able to argue that since they are sitting at 7-8 a win would be a moral victory, as the Raiders would finish the season at .500 or better for the first time in 4 years. But that didn’t seem to matter much in 2012 after they accomplished that record in 2011. All a win does Sunday is worsen their draft position slightly, which is never a good thing.”"

From a playoff perspective, okay, George has a point – the Raiders aren’t going to the postseason dance. But for a team that has been as down and as low as the Raiders have for more than a decade now, as they fight and claw their way back to respectability, no game is completely irrelevant. Getting back to .500 would be a major achievement that cannot and should not be overlooked. And it’s one that not even the most generous and optimistic NFL “experts” in the media thought this team could achieve.

Oakland has a chance to not only break even this season, they also have the chance to stick it to Kansas City, to derail the juggernaut that team has been for the last nine weeks, and deny them an AFC West crown. Minimize that as a simple “moral victory” if you must – and George does – but it would be a good win and another feather in the cap of this team.

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A win on Sunday would give the Raiders their first winning record against the AFC West since 2010 – the year they went 6-0 in division, but finished the season 8-8. And it would be just the second winning season against their division since 2003.

That point seems to be important enough to bear repeating. Beating the Chiefs on Sunday would give the Raiders a 4-2 division mark, give them their first winning record in the division since 2010, and just their second since 2003.

Coming in as the new HC this season, Jack Del Rio stated that his number one goal was to win the AFC West. And as one could probably surmise, to win the AFC West, a team needs to be able to beat their divisional rivals. Del Rio has this team on a course to not just win games in division, but to take over and dominate the AFC West. Beating this Chiefs team would be a fantastic step toward achieving that goal and make it a lot more than a mere “moral victory.”

Set in that frame, the match up with Kansas City certainly seems a lot more – relevant – doesn’t it?

George also questions Oakland’s motivation coming into the game by gracing us with this ever so brilliant point: “But the Raiders have to realize that beating Kansas City just helps out another sworn enemy in Denver. Where’s the motivation?”

It’s probably a safe bet that the Raiders know coming into the game that beating the Chiefs hands the division crown to the Broncos – though somebody might want to email GM Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders’ front office just in case. The flip side of George’s little nugget of brilliance is that losing to the Chiefs may help hand Kansas City the division crown – or it may not matter and Denver could win it anyway.

The point is that either Kansas City or Denver will win the AFC West this season. There is nothing the Raiders can do about it – except play spoiler by beating Kansas City and denying them a shot at it. To say that the Raiders lack the motivation to win on Sunday because Denver would win the division is just plain foolish.

George also went on to discuss Oakland’s “motivation” – or lack thereof – as it relates to future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson.

"“Sure, it’s future H.O.F Charles Woodson’s last game, and the Raiders want to send him out with a win. But they already gave him a glorious send off last week against the Chargers complete with a tear jerking speech by Woodson to the crowd after the game. Using the same motivation this Sunday would seem disingenuous and forced.”"

Disingenuous and forced? So… because the Raiders beat the Chargers last week – in his final home game – wanting to send Woodson out with a win in his final NFL game EVER, would be disingenuous and forced motivation?

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The sheer lack of logic and coherent thought in that statement is absolutely breathtaking.

Lest folks like George forget, when Woodson came back to the Raiders, he said it did it because he wanted to be part of building something. He had his eyes wide open and held no illusions that the process was going to be easy or that the team would be a serious contender in the years he had left. But he wanted to help build this team, he wanted to help put this team back on the road to relevance – and eventually to greatness once again.

And so he has. He took the mantle of leadership and has helped change the entire culture of the organization. He’s taken the youngsters under his wing. He’s taught them about the game. How to prepare. How to practice. And most importantly, he’s taught them how to win.

Thanks to his leadership and example, Woodson has helped transform this franchise from perpetual doormats to a team on the verge of fantastic things.

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After suffering through four and three win seasons, if this team can help send Charles Woodson out with eight wins this year, that’s a monumental accomplishment and something he and the organization can take a lot of pride in.

Still think that sounds disingenuous and forced?

Oakland’s season will be over on Sunday night. They don’t have a ticket to the postseason dance – this year – but they still have a lot to battle for. Even if sadly, some folks can’t seem to see that.