The Oakland Raiders take on an improved Tampa Bay Bucs team at home this weekend.
The Oakland Raiders have been on a roll ever since their bye week. Their first game back was against arguably the best team in the NFL this season, the Atlanta Falcons. While the Raiders lost that game, they gave Atlanta more of a run for their money than any other team has this season, and played some of their best football. Then, the Raiders were able to overcome some of their worst football this season when they came back to win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was not a pretty win, but a very important one as the Raiders showed they would not wilt late in games as they have in the past. Finally, the Raiders had their first solid win of the season against the Kansas City Chiefs in a game that was not as close as the score made it seem.
The Tampa Bay Bucccaneers, on the other hand, have also had some success recently. On Thursday Night Football, the Bucs were able to take down one of the biggest surprise teams this season against the Minnesota Vikings. While no one expected much from the Vikings this season, they have had one of the better defenses in the league and were an impressive 5-2 heading into their matchup against the Bucs. Before that, the Bucs barely lost to the New Orleans Saints after having beaten the Chiefs in a blow out.
Both the Raiders and the Bucs have had a much worse start to the 2012 season than they were expecting, and both are starting to figure things out and play the way they believed they would be able to coming into the season. Only a couple of weeks ago, people were talking about this as a game that the Raiders should win, now it is a game that will likely be tough competition for the Raiders. But with the Raiders defense playing as well as it has the past couple of weeks, and the Raiders offense starting to click much better than it had been all season, the Raiders, much like the Bucs, are a much different team than people thought only a few weeks ago. While the Raiders are no longer expected to win this game easily, this is a game that they must win if they hope to keep their playoff dreams alive.