When the Oakland Raiders started the season 4-2, many believed that it was a foregone conclusion the Raiders would finish the season better than they had in 2010. In fact, very few even discussed the potential record for the Raiders, instead, focusing on the playoff race. Now, with two weeks remaining in the season and the Raiders on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs, there is suddenly a very real chance that the Raiders do not improve on their 2010 record.
The Raiders currently sit at 7-7 with two games remaining. That means the Raiders must win out in order to improve on their breakout season in 2010. While making the playoffs is certainly the primary focus of the Oakland Raiders, there should also be concern for next season. After all of the success and improvement shown by the Raiders, to finish this season with the same or worse record than last season would be devastating for the psyche of the team.
When rebuilding a team, the worst thing that can happen is a major set back season the year after they finally looked ready to break out. When this happens, the team runs the risk of falling back into a slump rather than continuing on the path to improvement. All you have to do is look at what happened to the Cleveland Browns after Derek Anderson almost took them to the playoffs. The next season was terrible and the Browns have since gone back to the struggling franchise that they were before that break out season.
Even if the Raiders do not make the playoffs, there are postives that can be taken from this season and used to build upon for next year. However, if the Raiders were to finish either 7-9 or 8-8, there will be a lot of talk about the fact that this season was a failure for the Raiders after so much success early on, making it hard to focus on or even acknowledge the positives.
If the Raiders miss the playoffs, it is important that they be able to take something positive away from the season as they head into the offseason. At this point, it looks like an improved record may be their only hope for that.