Periodically noise comes from the Bay Area about how this is the year the Oakland Raiders return to glory, or at least finish above .500.
It hasn’t happened, though, since the Raiders reached the Super Bowl during the 2002 season. Only twice during the past 12 years have the Raiders even won more than five games in a season.
There’s a different vibe this year. It’s backed by Oakland being a road favorite for the first time since 2012 laying a field goal to the Bears at Soldier Field. Money has come on the Raiders, too, despite the fact they have been underdogs in 73 of their last 74 away games. It wouldn’t surprise if this game closed Raiders minus 3 1/2.
Nobody swooned when the Raiders named Jack Del Rio as their sixth head coach since 2005. Del Rio is experienced and solid, though, having coach Jacksonville from 2003-2011.
Del Rio Has Young Talent on the Roster
Del Rio can maximize young talent, which he has at the skill positions with Derek Carr, Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper. The Raiders also have a potentially devastating pass rush with another young potential star, Khalil Mack, and former 49ers pass rushing terror Aldon Smith. The Raiders recorded five sacks against Cleveland last week.
The Raiders were buried at home by Cincinnati, one of the five best teams in the NFL, in Week 1. Since then Oakland has averaged 32 points in defeating Baltimore and Cleveland. Carr was 50-for-78 passing in those games for 665 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception.
No team is giving up more points per game than the Bears. Opposing quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers combined to throw for eight touchdowns with only one interception versus Chicago with a 71.4 completion percentage.
Raiders set to put up points against Bears
Oddsmakers are projecting the Raiders to put up 24 points against the Bears. That team total seems low given how well Carr and Co. are playing and the Bears surrendering 35 points per game.
Oakland hasn’t won three consecutive games since 2011. A victory also would set up a first-place showdown at home for the Raiders against Denver next week. Heady stuff indeed.