Hell, the Raiders are going to make the playoffs, right?
After surviving a final setback on Sunday against the victorious Bengals, Auckland is 6-4 looking to the horizon on Monday morning with a smile on its collective faces. FiveThirtyEight gives the Raiders a 42% chance of reaching the postseason right now, though it hits over 50% with a win over the hollow Jets at MetLife Stadium in Week 12.
Their remaining schedule is as follows:
• Jets (3-7 )
• Leaders (6-4) *
• Titans (5-5)
• Jaguars (4-6)
• Chargers (4-6) *
• Broncos ( 3-7)
* The Chiefs and Charges play Monday night football. For those who regularly read Morning Seduction, you may be aware of how I thought this season would go in Auckland. John Gruden has spent most of this offseason as a devastating, destructive ham, and yet, the team has come up with not only his chaotic roster strategy but one of the toughest logistics schedules in the NFL this season. The 2019 Raiders are the equivalent of a contractor who throws a bunch of nail-infested wood waste into a wood chip and watches a sensible colonial emerge from the other side.
In some ways he convinced the rest of the team that most of the unhappiness they were facing this season had nothing to do with the people running the Raiders. And it works.
Offensively, they are a mid-way team statistically ( and growing), but Gruden helps them find ways to win games. It's much more of a mix than expected, especially when we were talking to some of our old Tampa players who thought the scheme had never been maximized because of Gruden's play. They really are an amalgam of flowing plays, like the one izo that frees up running Josh Jacobs for a touchdown or some of the backfield staff that creates interesting field-level discrepancies in passing plays.
Derek Carr is sixth in the passer rating and second in completion rate and expected completion rate of the next gene (he actually throws out the expected three-point completion rate, which speaks to both Carr's decision-making and the presence of open receivers). Jacobs is in the top five and again, at Gruden's expense, the scheme is flexible enough to see a tidy field about 21% of the time. Compare this to other elite rushers such as Leonard Furnet (35.16) and Derrick Henry (32.09). Frank Gore sees eight plus defenders in the box in more than 40% of his shots.
Defensively, though I would still prefer Halil Mack and the match problems he can create, the Raiders' inevitable fan can successfully argue at the most basic, redundant, context-level, Auckland field went into the game Sunday night with two players – Max Crosby and Benson Mayova – with more sacks than Mack. Again, this is not an argument I would make in a room full of smart football people, but it would probably make you win when discussing a big man with a face to paint with kisses and shoulder tips.
There are a lot of teams in the NFL every week that ask for our attention. The 7-3 Buffalo Bills are now making the playoffs. The Cardinals, despite a 3-7-1 record, seem to be converting their team into something that will be great along the way. But neither of them started the season as a burning building with an almost impossible schedule.
Now Auckland is emerging from the other side and requires our consideration.
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] SHOULD READ IN SI.COM: records19459033] After Colin Kaepernick's training, what's next? … Speaking of Kaepernick training, would it matter to you or in any way, or is your mind resolved? … Gary Gramling has been scared for the good, the bad and the ugly since week 11 … Does Toa Tagoiloa's extremely grave harm affect his draft status?
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BEST FROM THE INTERNET: Richard Sherman casually throws himself around a wild NFL conspiracy. … A stunning column by a measured, loaded writer in D.C .: The Washington football team lost Washington. … The Patriots will use anything, even the enemy's tears, in their intelligence reports. … Speaking of Bill Belikik, he can be an epic thrower. … Lamar Jackson remains king.
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THE CRIC: Ever want to see the airy, tastefully decorated attic of NYC? Now is your chance.
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