For years sports anchors have said the NFL just isn’t the same when the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders aren’t good. No one questions the prestige of the organizations for what they have both done for the NFL and its legacy. But in the last decade neither team has been the definition of success as establishments. The Cowboys have had an ever-changing roster and movement of pieces that were crucial to some of the winning the were able to do. This was cobbled with being riddled with injuries to key players on the roster, and having some questions around decisions and directions of the organization. The Raiders have been a revolving door of coaches and quarterbacks. For a moment, they had come to be a pit stop for aging players to collect one last decent contract. Both fan bases had weathered the storms of each team and their subpar performances; but things have seemed to change.
The Raiders and Cowboys are two of the few organizations with owners who have become household names. Both are/were flamboyant in their actions and approaches to their businesses. Both were vocal and visible with the media – consistently. Add in the fact they are controversial with some of what they said, and you have formula that kept things exciting and entertaining. Whether it was moving the team to another part of the state after a feud with local government or investing in one of the most innovated stadiums to date, both men were precarious visionaries with their eyes on the future. Unfortunately, Al Davis is no longer with us, passing the team on to his son Mark, who has taken his father’s team and is making quality moves for the forthcoming generation. Jerry Jones is still being Jerry Jones. He is still very influential in the day to day of the Cowboys and looking to get back to their championship status.
Currently the Cowboys are being led by two rookies. And with those two rookies they currently have the best record in the league. Yes, I just said that a team with two rookies at the helm on offense has the best record in the league, with ten wins and only one loss. This is unheard of in sports generally. It’s not solely on them, but they are leading the team. Ezekiel Elliot is looking to be one of the best running backs in the NFL, leading the league in rushing yards. A great combination of speed and power, the former OSU back is proving to be more than just serviceable. He is also seemingly performing better in the big moments. He has come through in the clutch multiple times this season to help his team win. One big change this year for Dallas is the calling of the plays from behind the snap. For years Dallas had Tony Romo, who has been one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL for some time. Unfortunately his talent has not always translated into wins for his team. Injuries have set back the team consistently, but this year ailment opened the door for their young QB Dak Prescott. Prescott is sitting in the top ten in QBR and Passing yards, which is beyond impressive for a rookie. The sky seems to be the limit for the tandem and time will truly tell.
Now to get to the what we are actually here for. For those of you that didn’t know, I am a huge Raiders fan. This year has been nothing but electrifying for the team. With reputed wild man Jack Del Rio at Head Coach, this season has been arguably the most entertaining football in the league. But, it’s not just Jack that has caused games to be exhilarating. Derek Carr has proven himself to be not just one of the best QBs in the league, but potentially an MVP in the future. Already having Pro-Bowl honors under his belt, the accolades are sure to rack up over his career. Carr has honestly shown out this season. He has been gutsy to say the least, and he’s shown it hasn’t been just luck. His skill, will, and confidence has gotten the battle tested Raider through many games. In instances where many teams would rely on their running game in late game situations (especially with one of the better rushing offenses in the NFL), the Raider put their faith in Carr to bring it home – and he’s done it every time. Of course it’s not a one-man show. He has a solid receiving core lead by Michael Crabtree and the young star Amari Cooper. On top of that is that rushing core lead by Latavius Murray, who has looked very solid this year. But, even further than that and a cornerstone to their offenses success, is the offensive line. Lead by Pro-Bowl Left Tackle Donald Penn. The veteran Penn has had his work cut out for him the season, and frankly, he has made it look too easy. For those that don’t get it, your O-line is vital to an offenses success. The reason Carr can show himself to be one of the best QBs in the clutch, one of the best g gunslingers in the game, is because of the work in the trenches Donald Penn and his boys have been doing. Taking down the Ravens, Texans, Broncos, and Jaguars; all which have some of the best defenses in the NFL, it’s obvious why they are the highest paid line in football. The Raiders are nine and two, and with leaders like Carr and Penn, and Khalil Mack plus Malcom Smith on the defensive side; the best may be yet to come. The Raiders are a team to fear with reason. They are tough, ballsy, well coached, confident, and most importantly battle tested; with many fourth quarter game winning performances. They can run all over you, air-it-out when need be, get in a shootout at will, and the quarterback will never be touched. The rest of the year will be interesting; and the post season even better.