The Raiders have lost three straight games and six on the season. They’ve experienced some tough, close losses already, contests they could’ve and probably should’ve won.
Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions won’t count among them. The Raiders deserved to lose. They continued to bend defensively, and weren’t rigid enough to help an offense that has fallen on hard times. The Raiders are now outside the playoff picture and seem to be wearing down after a difficult stretch against quality competition.
They must act quickly to right the ship, or the season could spiral out of control.
5) Hayden still starting
The Raiders have stuck with 2013 first-round pick DJ Hayden through good times and bad, hoping steady reps help him realize vast potential. That hasn’t happened thus far. Hayden continues to struggle making plays on the ball, yet continues to start over a more productive option in David Amerson. Passes capitalizing on Hayden’s coverage are completed 74 percent of the time. He’s given up 683 yards and five touchdowns. Amerson isn’t perfect, but he might be a better option at this point.
4) Amari’s Achilles’ heel
It’s tough to criticize the Raiders’ first-round pick, who has generally been outstanding during his rookie season. Cooper does have an issue with drops. He had two on Sunday in Detroit, one at a critical juncture. He has 10 on the season, the NFL’s second-highest total behind Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans. His explosiveness has been held in check lately, with precious few yards after the catch. He can’t do anything if he can’t catch the ball, and must find consistency to help a struggling offense.
3) Offense hits a lull
The Raiders offense has been clicking most of the season, producing entertainment that included heavy point totals and big plays aplenty. Not so much anymore. The Raiders have been shut out in five of the last six quarters, including four straight over two games. The scored 13 points in the third quarter Sunday, but went dormant in the fourth. The running game seemed off, and the passing game was limited to short stuff. The defense isn’t capable of winning on its own, and losing will get regular if the offense can't get right.
2) Frustration seeping in
Sunday’s loss to Detroit had a different feel than the previous five. The Raiders believe they should’ve beat the Lions, but never looked worthy of that goal. Players were pissed after the game, showing frustration rarely seen from this confident bunch. Fingers aren’t pointing at this point, but the Raiders are upset with execution far below standard in recent weeks. Fixes aren’t being made – tackling remains an issue after all this time – and the season has consequently turned south after a strong start.
1) Outside the playoff picture
The Raiders were the AFC’s No. 5 seed a month ago, with a seemingly solid chance to contend for a playoff spot. That was before this three-game losing streak. The Raiders are now two games under .500, and shouldn’t be considered among those with postseason potential. They are 10th in the conference, and must finish with a 4-2 record just to reach their first 8-8 season since 2011. That’s no guarantee. This season could lose some serious luster if the Raiders can’t pull out of this tail spin.