A wildly up and down regular season for the Raiders comes to a conclusion Sunday with the team still alive for its first playoff appearance in nearly a decade.
The Raiders have struggled over the last month for a few reasons. Their defense — 29th in points allowed and yards allowed — remains overrated and underperforming.
The team has also been hurt by a number of injuries and a surprisingly thin bench. The good news is that the team is getting healthy.
No, Darren McFadden won’t play on Sunday against the Chargers and probably won’t play again this season. But the team will have receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore on the field together for the first time since Oakland won in San Diego in early November. (Moore returned from injury two weeks ago.)
Darrius Heyward-Bey has certainly had his moments, but Ford and Moore bring a more explosive, reliable, and versatile element to the offense.
On defense, Michael Huff should be back in the mix. His backup Matt Giordano is not a starting-caliber player and has been exposed with Huff out of the lineup.
Oakland isn’t playing particularly well right now, but it wouldn’t surprise us if they made the Divisional Round of the playoffs. If they get the No. 6 seed, for instance, the Raiders would have a manageable game in Houston, where they already won this year.
The Raiders showed early in the year they can compete with any team. With a lineup getting healthy at the right time, they could still make some noise.