Raiders improve to 5-0 against the division

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19: Quentin Groves  of the Oakland Raiders celebrates with Kamerion Wimbley  and Matt Shaughnessy  after he stopped Correll Buckhalter  of the Denver Broncos for a safety at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The Oakland Raiders got it done at home today and improved to 5-0 in their division as well as going to 5-2 at home this season. While they haven’t been getting it done during their road trips this year, or their games outside of their division, they did manage to accomplish their first no double-digit loss season since 2002, all the while improving to .500 for the first time this late in Tom Cable’s coaching tenure. It appears they are on the right track moving forward.

The Oakland Raiders improved to 5-0 in the division for the first time since 1991. Running back Darren McFadden crossed the 1,100 yard mark for the first time since Napoleon Kaufman did it in 1997. McFadden’s performance this week cannot even be called one of his best of the season because he has been doing so well all season long. His 20 carries for 119 yards was average compared to some of the things he has done this year. Through the air, McFadden had 39 yards on four catches in what head coach Tom Cable called a “very ugly game in the first half.” Coach said the team was “not very focused in the first half, but then came out in the second half and played Raider football, like [they are] supposed to do.”

Darren McFadden gave credit to his teammates for his 1,100 yard rushing season following the game: “It’s a great feeling, I got to give it up to my offensive linemen; they’ve done a hell of a job all season long. I’m just going out there with a lot of confidence, just going out there and getting my job done.”

Tom Cable gave one hell of a speech about manning up at halftime and he got a lot of credit for this win from the players in their postgame chats. While he is excited about being 5-0 in the division, there still has to be some concern about being 2-7 outside of the division. Even if the Raiders did end up 9-7 at the end of the season, there is some concern that Al Davis would cite the reason for not re-signing Cable since they are not 11-5, despite having the talent for such a record.

Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is still under contract at the end of the season, unlike Cable, and would potentially be a suitable replacement to take this team to the next level. He could also be in high demand for a head coaching job with possible openings in Denver, Detroit, Carolina, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, and San Francisco.

However, that 5-0 mark in the division has to be taken into consideration when thinking about Cable’s future with the franchise. Postgame, Cable said, “I’m excited about being 5-0 in the division. That’s a hell of a job by this football team. We’re back to 7-7; .500 for us, but the whole goal is to get into the playoffs. All we can do is our part; disappointed by last week, but we got back on track this week.”

That’s just it.  The Raiders have been disappointed by several teams, including a few candidates that could be in the market to make offensive coordinator Hue Jackson their head coach next year. Jackson’s offense has just eclipsed the 500 total yard mark for the third time this season. In those three games, the Raiders have nearly as many yards as they had for the entire season last year. Earlier this week however, Jackson said he enjoys his job and claimed it is one of the best in the NFL citing the talent on the roster as a large part of his success. The Raiders are currently ranked 14 overall in the league after a 31 ranked performance in 2009. After the current week is over, that fourteenth place stat could increase significantly.

The Raiders have also scored an average of 24.2 points per game, which is up from 12.9 points per game last year and also stands to improve this week after the Raiders put up 39 against their divisional foe. In fact, in two games against the Broncos, the Raiders have scored 98 points, after scoring only 206 during the entire 2009 season.

Their points total today prompted Tony Bruno, of CSN Bay Area’s postgame live to say, “Four touchdowns, three field goals, and a partridge in a pear tree,” in light of the Christmas holiday forthcoming.

But Tom Cable gave credit to the fans, despite the non-sellout crowd. “The thing that really got it going was this crowd, let’s get that straight,” said Cable following the game. “This crowd came out on a bad weather day and on two drives we had them backed up, on one we got a safety… so that’s this crowd out here.”

Tyvon Branch gave credit to the crowd as well as Coach Cable: “Even in the rain, [the crowd] came out for us and it was great for us. When the rain got the heaviest that’s when they cheered the loudest.”  Branch also credited his defensive line, which includes Richard Seymour and the man who leads all NFL defensive tackles in sacks (7.5), Tommy Kelly: “Guys are really doing everything they can for us up on the line and that’s what’s making us gel on defense.”

Meanwhile, quarterback Jason Campbell said the team had to get over turnovers to win. The Broncos scored 17 of their 23 points off of Raiders turnovers and Campbell said, “Everybody knew we could put up points, so we just needed to get over the turnovers and have guys stay on schedule.”

It was a challenging game because of turnovers for the Raiders this week, with quarterback Jason Campbell himself being responsible for two of them on interceptions. At one point he left the game due to re-aggravating a stinger injury he reportedly suffered against the Jacksonville Jaguars last week, but it was Greg Papa who said Campbell may have been held out of the Dolphins game due to suffering that same injury against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week eleven. Campbell struggled in the most recent game, but played very well against the Jaguars, making me wonder whether it’s better to have a QB who struggles and wins, or a QB who plays great and loses. What do you think, Raider Nation?

The Raiders will need to win the next two games and hope the Chiefs lose next week, plus have a Charger loss some time in the next two weeks in order to win their division. Next week, they will play an Indianapolis Colts team that beat the Jaguars whom they lost to just one week ago. The Colts have historically lacked on defending the rushing attack, but this week they held the Jags to a season low 67 net rushing yards.

Can they do it again against the Raiders? That will be the question going into the game this week.

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