The Oakland Raiders take on the Green Bay Packers this Sunday in what could turn out to be the most important game for the Raiders this season.
Heading into last weekend's game with the Miami Dolphins, the Raiders were in the cat bird seat in the AFC West. They held sole position of first place and looked as though they were going to be able to win the division somewhat uncontested. Then, disaster struck. The Tim Tebow phenomenon has not ended, in fact, he looks to be getting better. And on top of that, the Raiders were absolutely demolished by the Dolphins in south beach.
Now, just one week after many thought a Raiders playoff birth was a foregone conclusion, it is starting to look like the Raiders will be lucky to make it into the playoffs. Now, as a result, a game the Raiders are expected to lose, could be the most important of the season if the Raiders still want to make the playoffs.
When I say that this game could be one of the most important games this season, I should explain. The Raiders certainly do not need to win this game in order to make the playoffs. If they win the next three they should make it in, and could possibly make it in going 2-2 over the final four games. But either way, winning at least two of the final three is critical.
In order for the Raiders to do that, I believe it is essential that the Raiders do not get blown out of the water by the Packers this weekend.
In their game against the Dolphins, the Raiders showed an incredible amount of immaturity and inabiliy to act with discipline. When your team leader and most experienced player is thrown out of the game for throwing a punch, it is a very bad sign for the mentality of your team. It was clear, very early in the game, that the Raiders had simply given up. They were not giving anywhere near their best, and as the game progressed, you could see the effort diminish with every series.
The Raiders are still a very young team that has a lot of growing to do. I fear that if the Raiders get blown out for the second week in a row, it could lead to an implosion down the stretch of the last three games. In order for the Raiders to maintain a good level of confidence and play the way we all know they can, they need to keep the gamein Green Bay competitive. If not, the last three games of the season could get ugly.