Wednesday 21 February 2018 / 05:59 PM


All aboard the Oakland Raiders bandwagon – next stop, Estadio Azteca to take on the Houston Texans.

The 30-20 victory over the Denver Broncos gave the Raiders three consecutive wins, and by the looks of their schedule they have very good chance of winning the next three as well. Their toughest game might actually be the rematch with the Broncos on New Year’s Day.

The Raiders rushing offense is on fire. Latavius Murray not only ran for 114 yards, he was able to turn some of those precious yards into three touchdowns. Let’s think about that for a second. The Broncos had one of the best defenses in the NFL last year, and is largely the reason for their Super Bowl win.

The common sentiment among the Denver defense was, “That’s definitely not the mark of a great defense. We can’t just get run over.” Run over they were, though, as Oakland had 218 net rushing yards on Denver’s defense, and that’s saying something. It’s always interesting to see how drastically NFL teams can change season to season, and this might have been a major stop to the Broncos making a run for the Super Bowl again in 2017.

A good amount of the Denver loss falls on the inability of their offense to heat up and keep up with Oakland. Their first four drives were three and out situations, and the six points Oakland put up let them control the pace of the game for the following three quarters.

The Broncos are patiently waiting on the Trevor Siemian experiment to work out, and not to say that this game sealed the deal for the new QB, but it definitely was not a good look. He threw 18/37, but for 283 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 unfortunate interception. By contrast, Oakland’s Derek Carr only threw for 184 yards on 20/31 attempts with no TDs or interceptions. On paper, Siemian had a monster game and Carr’s game was overshadowed by Murray taking control of the offense.

What a game for Latavius Murray. Coming out of University of Central Florida, a university known more for its proximity to Disney World than football, Murray wasn’t exactly born into the highlight reel. As a sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, Murray proved his worth in an underdog stupor. That might be the best way to describe the 2016-2017 Raiders, the NFL underdog story coming to fruition.

The Oakland defense was also stifling. Siemian was one yard short of throwing more than 100 yards than Carr, yet it was not enough. It’s far too easy to blame the quarterback for losing, but honestly Siemian played a much better game than Carr. The faltering Denver defense and their inability to stop the 6’3, 230-pound Murray from stomping through tough situations is the reason the Broncos are coming home with the loss.

Oakland’s win claims first-place spot in the AFC West. Denver got knocked all the way down to third and could possibly be hanging out in fourth by the end of the season. The third-placed San Diego Chargers have three relatively easy games against the Dolphins, Texans and Buccaneers, whereas Denver might rack up at least one loss against the Saints and Chiefs.

The Raiders not only claimed top billing, they invigorated a fan-base that has been pretty quiet since their appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII in 2002. I have a feeling that as the Raiders gather more steam, we’re going to start seeing more Raiders fans – and supporters of the fairweather variety – start popping out of various corners.

How cool would the Bay Area be with the Golden State Warriors and Oakland Raiders holding championships?

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About the author

Alex Moskov

Alex has come on board with CBS as our basketball and gridiron expert, providing opinions and analysis from the bright lights of the NBA and NFL.

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