Coming off the big win over the Chargers last Sunday, many people are now wondering "Where were these guys through November?" The Raiders play in this game was night and day to it's play in the two previous game and they had just one hard fought win in entire the month of November. Luckily though, it isn't November anymore. And with the change to December, the Raiders look like a new team.
The same thing happened earlier in the season. The Raiders started the 2010 season going 1-3 in September-- barely pulling out a win over the St Louis Rams. They were blown out in the season opener against the Titans, played an uninspired game against the listless Cardinals, and couldn't outscore the Texans and their NFL worst defense. The Raiders were outscored 76 to107 in the month.
Well, they must have been glad to see September go because come October, they started winning. And oddly enough, it started with the Chargers then too. It was also their start of an undefeated run on the AFC West. They flipped the schedule, going 3-1 in the month with two decisive beat downs over the Broncos and Seahawks. This time the Raiders outscored their opponents 136 to 61.
Then, just a game after a dominating 33-3 win over the Seahawks, the Raiders moved into November and began to struggle. They won the first game but it took a heroic performance by rookie Jacoby Ford for the Raiders to come from behind and pull it out in overtime. They would have no such heroics after the bye week against Pittsburgh and Miami. In just three games, the Raiders were outscored 88 to 43.
If this pattern holds true, the Raiders will go 3-1 in December. They will need it to be true because that would result in an 8-7 record and their only shot at a playoff berth. They already have one under their best after the 28-13 win over the Chargers to sweep the season series. They will meet up with the Jaguars, Broncos, and Colts the final three weeks of December.
Then the calendar would switch to January and their final game of the season versus the Chiefs. At which point, the Raiders will be hoping this every-other-month thing ends right there.
We don't know yet if a 9-7 record will even be good enough to get in the playoffs so it remains to be seen just how pivotal that final game will be. But just finding themselves at or above .500 is a big step forward for these Raiders. If they can't make the playoffs, perhaps next year they can try and keep their talent from taking every other month off.