The Oakland Raiders have faced stiff competition the last three games they have played. First, they ran into a Tampa Bay Buccaneers team that has been absolutely on fire as of late. Next, they were demolished by a Baltimore Ravens team that has been trying to deal with injuries all season. Then, this past weekend, the Raiders offered themselves up as a stepping stone for a New Orleans Saints team who looked to have no chance at a playoff berth only a few short weeks ago. All of those teams, however, are clearly much better than the Raiders are, so the eventual blow outs, seemed more inevitable than not. This weekend, however, the Raiders face a Cincinnati Bengals team that is trying to complete a turn around from being one of the league's worst teams just a couple of seasons ago. So, theoretically, this is the kind of team the Raiders should look forward to playing, because they represent a challenge that they are fully capable of overcoming.
Well, at least they used to represent such a challenge. Now that the Raiders have shown just how bad their team is this season, the Bengals, who once represented a winnable game, now represent yet another potential embarassment for the Raiders. While the Bengals are only .500, they are a far more complete team than the Raiders and have much more left to play for this season than the Raiders. On Sunday, it was clear that many of the Raiders had already checked out of the season. There was not just a lack of effort against the Saints, there were clearly players on the field who just didn't care. The Raiders cannot travel to Cincinnati and hope to come out of the game with anything other than an embarassing performance if they play the way they did against the Saints last weekend.
As if the potential for yet another shalacking was not bad enough, there is the added embarassment that the Bengals fleaced the Raiders of two draft picks last season in the Carson Palmer trade. While the Bengals and their new defensive assistant, Hue Jackson, laugh all of the way to the bank with Raiders draft picks, Oakland is stuck with the frustration of knowing the trade did nothing but set the team back a couple of years.