The Raiders went into Minnesota and beat the Vikings Sunday, but even though they were able to pull out the win, it seemed as if they couldn't catch a break from the officials. Well, a few hours later they would catch a big break as they found out next Sunday they will not have to face Chicago Bears starting quarterback, Jay Cutler.
The Bears started their AFC West swing this week when the Chargers traveled to Chicago. Cutler carved up the Chargers throughout the game, but late in the fourth quarter, he fractured the thumb on his throwing hand.
Several reports claim that he will require surgery on the injured thumb that will keep him out for 6-8 weeks. His next three games would have been against the other three AFC West teams. Next up is the Raiders.
This means the Raiders will be the first team to face Bears backup Caleb Hanie who has never started a game in his three year career. Hanie has appeared in seven regular season games with a total of eight completions for 66 yards and an interception.
Hanie may be best known for entering last year's NFC Championship game when Cutler and primary backup Todd Collins had both left the game with injuries. He led the Bears to a touchdown in his first series and later led them on another touchdown drive. However, he also threw two interceptions including one that was returned for a touchdown to help the Packers get to the Super Bowl.
The Packers faced Hanie after preparing for Cutler. The Raiders will have the entire week to dissect Hanie and prepare for him.
The tables will be turned for the Raiders in a sense because they went through the same situation earlier this season when starter Jason Campbell went out with a broken collarbone. The result was Kyle Boller getting the start. He threw three interceptions in the first half, one returned for a touchdown and the Raiders were down 21-0 by halftime. Carson Palmer was given the ball in the third quarter and the Raiders were shut out 28-0.
The lucky thing for the Raiders losing Campbell was the timing. He went down just two days before the trade deadline. This allowed the Raiders to swing the deal that brought Carson Palmer to the Raiders and he has won his last two starts. One of those wins was against the Chargers.
Unfortunately the two losses before that were against the Chiefs and Broncos. So yet again, it is the Chargers who get the raw end of the deal while the other AFC West teams benefit.
And speaking of that loss to the Broncos, you can bet the Bears will be studying that game intently. Their best hope of beating the Raiders is a heavy dose of runs from Matt Forte and a few quarterback scramble plays by Caleb Hanie.
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Hate to see a player go down to injury, but the loss of Cutler is very good news for the Raiders. I see a definite victory over the Bears, and the beginning of a strong playoff run.. By the way, Hue Jackson has a legitimate gripe in regards to the officiating. Many of the penalties called on the Raiders this year are a joke, and it's the Raider mystique, more than anything, that has the officials targeting the Raiders the way they are doing...
I also think Denver is the team to be concerned about - not San Diego. The Bolts can screw us up too - in that last game. If we need that last win and they're already out of the playoff picture - they might be motivated to end our season, regain some respectability and possibly save Turner's job if they lose a lot of games between now and then. That's their real problem imho - the Turner Effect is at the boiling point. He was handed a Super Bowl ready team and basically underachieved every season - just like he did in all his other coaching stops. He's one of the most overrated coaches in the league if you ask me. But that's another story.
Back to the Raiders - don't overlook Denver. The one thing Tebow brings to the table is the ability to rally the troops - that's what he did in college. They have a good defense, a decent rushing attack and a coach who knows how to get more out of his players than anyone can honestly expect. Fox had Carolina playing over their heads every season - he's doing it now in Denver too. So far as Oakland, I wouldn't overlook Chicago with their D and RBs, Miami is a long trip to play a team that has nothing to lose and is playing good football right now, then GB at Lambeau. I think the Raiders will find a way to win the division - but it could get very ugly on the way. Carson needs more freedom to throw the ball around. We need to be a high scoring team with our injury-riddled defense. With the fleet of WRs we have, we should be going deep a lot more - put the fear of god into those defenders on the first drive.
It's too bad Sanchez threw that stupid pick-six Thursday night because we'd be up 2 games on SD and Denver right now - a nice little cushion.
Tebow is experiencing a lot of succes in the option O they have developed fo him, but let's face it - he is a terrible passer who will face serious struggles when Defenses learns to adapt to the new style - which will happen within the next couple of games! He cannot win enough games through the air to make Denver a potential threat to the division, it will not happen!
Cassel is out after they had rallied pretty good after Berry and Charles, so the Chiefs are definately out - especially considering the insane schedula they have left!
So it will deservedly be between a team in crisis led by a struggling (injured?) Rivers, and the injured but rapidly improving Raiders - the ladder naturally being the clear favorite at this point!
San Diego (4-6) schedule:
@ JAC (3-7)
@ DET (7-3)
@ RAIDERS (6-4)
Pretty easy schedule where DEN, JAC, BUF should all be certain wins, but they will need to win 5 games to be competitive, and that would require some sort of Powder Blue Miracle of sorts, as Rivers is no where near the elite QB we have grown to know and hate, why they need other playmakers to win the games for them - not an easy task for a malfunctioning semiimploding team who is used to the Division being theirs!
Raiders (6-4) Schedule:
@ MIA (3-7)
@ GB (10-0)
@ KC (4-5)
What a break to get CHI without Cutler! But still, their D is very stout and they have the leadership to rally behind Hanie, making this a potential trap game! Important homegame that could really help the outlook!
MIA and KC are must win games agains inferior teams with plenty key injuries! But the other remaining games have more potential pitfalls!
It seems that 3 Ws would be enough to win the division, so a W against CHI would be huge!
We are in very good position to take the division this year, and with Palmer getting even more comfortable with our O, as well as a well-rested D-Mac and Ford returning before too long, we could see a very strong Raider squad preparing for a deep PlayOff run! NFL.com even had us as a prediction to win the SB in a post this week (not that it is saying much, but at least we have begun to be recognized as a legit PO team)!
WOW! that is insane luck just like MIN losing AP ... i can't believe the raiders' luck. if they can't beat Hanie, then god help this team. they will still come on strong with their awesome defense... but like MIN, we should keep them at bay with our stout OL lead by Veldheer and allow Palmer to get more involved in the passing game... unlike what we saw today.
im still in shock here... what a great advantage for us. this could change things a bit, because if we pull that off at home, we go to MIA the following week... which is a winnable game. 8-4 could damn near get us a division win considering all the other teams in our division's schedule.
@Harder2000 Personally, i think Broncos are are biggest threat. Many reasons. 1.. As shit as Teebow is he is doing something that is very important! He finds a way of winning. 2.. They have the best run defence in the AFC West (Best Run, not best players). There defence never, ever, gives up a lot of points and as long as the defence is playing Teebow will always have a chance, especially in -the 4th Qtr where everything is on the line. 3: Chargers are losing, They can't buy a win. They are going to be so low confidence at the moment. Rivers is playing as badly as he ever has done in his career. I don't look at the schdule, I am looking at the teams who are on a run, confident and try and find a way to win than find a way to lose. That is Denver at the moment.
I still think we'll win the AFC West! but we must must must find a way to score points in the 4th! We just don't play offensive football late on in games and it is strange.
Also for us to have any legitimate chance in the playoffs we can't rely on being 20 points up at the half as this is plainly not going to happen! Against every team we have played this year, where we have been up by a 2 plus scores we have let teams back into it & these weren't really great teams. These were average or poor teams. I would have expected the offensive gurus of HJ & AS to have worked this out by week 10? Its not a case of 'finishing' games.. finishing games is where you are 7 or less points up and you win.. Not 20+ points, this isnt finishing, this is stopping... we need to learn not to stop, before we learn to finish.
Anyways, road win are always good and HJ said he wanted us to get back to playing Raider football. Speed, long deep threat, powerful,exciting running game, awesome offensive line, over aggressive defence, nearly more penalty yards than running yards, nail biting finishes, stupid personal fouls, complaining about penalty decisions and with all this - Just Winning! He seems to have got his wish..
@DARKKUSH My tweet, at the beginning of the Chargers v Bears game... Come on Chargers, do us a favour. Take out Forte & Cutler... And maybe even give hester a slight ankle sprain while your at it.
Now I'm not so superstitious, but I will continue to do this we regards our forthcoming opponents..
Nothing against Rogers, he is amazing! But I will be putting the Twitter Voodoo on him in week 13..
@ukraider78 No doubt - HJ and AS need to get it going properly in the second half and not get too vanilla until we succesfully can run it down - no need to lay off the gas until the job is done! Also, Chuckie must be one of the worst D coordinators when it comes to adjusting throughout the game and in the half! Come on Chuckie, keep the O guessing so we won't be too easy to read in the second half!
Still don't see Denver being a threat - the skill level on the team is just too low, and although Tebow is a baller who finds ways to succeed, he is kind of a one trick pony as well as their entire O right now, and i just can't see that go on and win games! If they were to win the division, several of their Ws would need to come from the passing game, and Tebow just isn't good enough to do that consistantly imo!
Also, their rushing O is good rigjht now, but it will not continue! No Show is out, McGahee is lingering and the entire concept of the option O is supsceptible to go down the drain once the run doesn't dominate! Any good team will shut them down and make Tebow win the game through the air, which he can't!
We'll see, but i definately don't see Denver as the primary concern at this point..