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Raiders face must-win vs. Titans

The Oakland Raiders have not made the playoffs since the 2002 season, all the way back when Tim Brown and Jerry Rice were playing receiver, and Rich Gannon was under center at the controls. It has been a brutal stretch since then, seeing the likes of JaMarcus Russell, Andrew Walter, Aaron Brooks, Daunte Culpepper, Bruce Gradkowski, Kyle Boller and others throwing the pigskin.

Entering 2015, it was expected that the Raiders would be better but not a playoff-caliber team. That notion seemed to be off when Oakland ran out to a 4-3 start with wins that including a trampling of the New York Jets and a pummeling of the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. It appeared that first-year head coach Jack Del Rio had some mojo working, especially with rookie receiver Amari Cooper and quarterback Derek Carr lighting up opposing defenses.

Unfortunately, things have gone astray over the past three games. Oakland has not been able to get the job done, first falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers in wild fashion at Heinz Field. There was certainly not shame in that game, but the loss seemed to take some steam out of the Raiders’ engines. The following week, Oakland came home and was soundly beaten by the Minnesota Vikings. Sitting at 4-5, the Raiders went on the road to play the woeful Detroit Lions last Sunday, only to fall victim in an 18-13 defeat.

At 4-6, Oakland has no choice but to beat the dreadful Tennessee Titans. Tennessee has only two wins and already fired head coach Ken Whisenhunt, replacing him with interim man Mike Mularkey. The Raiders are a one-point favorite on the road at LP Field, with Vegas believing the men in silver and black will finally get off the snide.

If Oakland has any hope of making the playoffs, this game is a must-win. The following week would also fall under the category when the Raiders host the Kansas City Chiefs. It will be the first of two meetings between those long-time AFC West rivals, with the other meeting coming in Week 17 at Arrowhead Stadium.

Kansas City currently sits at 5-5, winner of four straight games. It is also holding the sixth seed in the AFC, but has a tough game this week against the Buffalo Bills, albeit at home. A few wins by the Raiders could suddenly have them in nice position headed down the stretch, despite facing a tough schedule.

Oakland will play the Denver Broncos on the road after playing the Chiefs before coming home to take on the Green Bay Packers. If the Raiders enter that two-game stretch with a 6-6 record, there is at least hope of a split and then one final push to a 9-7 record and maybe a playoff spot.

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