Well, it's that time of the season, either your playing for the playoffs or rebuilding for next year. Fortunately for the Oakland Raiders their division is solely dominated by one team leaving room to excel. If they win all remaining games there is a possibility for a playoff run.
If you've watched the Raiders offense over the past three weeks, you would come to the conclusion, that they're in a rebuilding stage. Quarterback Carson Palmer is still looking for his breakout game and the offense is still work in progress.
"Anytime you're a competitor, your anxious to get on the field," said coach Dennis Allen. "We all have a lot of pride and we wanna go out and play the way we know we are capable of playing."
This Sunday, Oakland has the chance to turn things around when they host the New Orleans Saints. It's an opportunity to get back in the AFC West race as they remain one game behind the San Diego Chargers. Currently, the Denver Broncos lead the division with a 6-3 record. With six games remaining in the season anything can happen.
"It's always a sense of urgency regardless of what you did last Sunday," Richard Seymour said. "We definitely have to get it turned around, we can't worry about last weeks loss, we just have to prepare like any other game at a high level."
The loss to the Baltimore Ravens was the worst defeat the Raiders had this season. Despite the countless injuries the team must overcome the odds and play their best football as a team. The Saints who began the season with a slow start, picked up momentum and beat the last undefeated team in the league, the Atlanta Falcons last Sunday.
Palmer certainly has his hands full. Rallying his team for a few memorable late fourth quarter comebacks is wasn't enough for a win in the NFL but maybe in Fantasy Football. The turnovers and struggles getting into the red zone has been an achilles heel for Oakland. And losing both running backs, Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson has been a huge loss to their running game.
"I feel pretty good, I got better each day and I'm ready to go out there and play my game," said Khalif Barnes. "The injuries are apart of football, that just gives guys an opportunity to play their game who don't start. It's not a setback, we all have to prepare to play and win."
The return of Barnes is a huge addition to the offensive line. He plays a key role in providing the protection Carson needs. However, there more problems than just getting the offense on track. The defense has completely collapsed in the last two games due to poor communication, miscues and bad timing.
"They got a real good team and Drew [Brees] does a real good job in leading them," Tommy Kelly said. "We need to come back strong, we're playing at home, and the Saints are easy to deal with on the road. I expect any player to be at his best coming off a 55-20 loss."
The season is not over yet, therefore the Raiders have a chance to overcome their woes this weekend. They will have to move past challenges they have faced in the recent weeks and envision a win that many don't see forthcoming. Oakland's biggest hurdle is not New Orleans, it's themselves.