RF365’s Odds on the Odd … I mean, on the Raiders

By Os Davis  |   Thursday, June 25, 2009  |  Comments( 10 )

Oakland Raiders
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You know who’s not bored during this nadir of NFL activity? The bookmakers! The odds-makers and money-takers continue to try to make a living off those ever-speculating punters (bad economy, schmad economy!), even in this wasteland. Because we’ve been known to partake in a little speculation here at RealFootball365.com, today brings a brief look – and pithy commentary, naturally – on odds posted for the 2009 Oakland Raiders.

• Over/under, win total for 2009 Oakland Raiders: 5.5

Most ludicrous line first, then. Look, we all know the not-so-pretty made-for-soundbite stats: The Raiders haven’t won more than six games since playing in Super Bowl XXXVII. The Raiders’ passing offense was dead last in the NFL in 2008 in a whole bunch of categories. Additionally, the uncertainty of most observers vis-à-vis JaMarcus Russell has been reduced to a question of precisely when affixing the “bust” label might be most appropriate.

However, there is the schedule to consider.

And this is one thing that’s really incomprehensible among the hand-wringing, whining bunch of blogosphere predictions. While no one expects much from the 2009 Oakland Raiders, has anyone seen this thing?

Look: In the first 11 games, the Raiders draw the San Diego Chargers (don’t tell me these guys are contenders; Norv Turner has made a 14-2 squad into an 8-8 playoff-squeaker in just three seasons *and* LaDainian Tomlinson is done) twice, the Kansas City Chiefs twice, the Denver Broncos (worst team of the 2009 season?), the Cincinnati Bengals. Heck, I could start myself and my grandfather – I’m half-blind and he’s 85, incidentally – and win three of these. Again, I can’t help but think of a 4-4 record at the midway point and sportswriters tweeting away about “The Surprise Team of the Year.” Prediction: Over. These guys are good for six wins, no matter how pessimistic the prognosticator. Look at the schedule.

• Raiders win the AFC championship: 45/1

Here we approach – if not fully enter with bag packed and ready to stay for a week or two – the realm of fantasyland. On the plus side, the Raider Nation’s favorite word in the football dictionary has to be “parity.” The 2000s have made winners (or at least conference winners) out of historical beatdogs and also-rans like the New England Patriots (sorry), the Seattle Seahawks, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (sorry again), and last year’s NFC champion Arizona Cardinals.

Sure, a lot of things would have to happen along the way to an Oakland Raiders vs. New York Giants showdown in the Super Bowl, but imagine this scenario: After finally finding his stride, Russell demonstrates his burgeoning skills well and Tom Cable proves to be a savvy operator as Oakland gets out to a “surprising” 4-4 start. Disaster seemingly strikes in Week 10 when Russell goes down in the middle of a 35-3 blowout of the Chiefs thanks to a Bernard Pollard hit that cuts him down at the knees.

But it’s a blessing in disguise, as veteran Jeff Garcia takes over seamlessly, even improving on Russell’s stunning season with his veteran leadership and clutch play. Garcia outsmarts the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day, stuns the Pittsburgh Steelers the next week, and cruises his offense past the Baltimore Ravens to close out the Raider season at 10-6.

In the playoffs, division champions the Indianapolis Colts and Patriots await. In the divisional round, the Raiders ... ah, I can’t sustain this. Way too much of a long shot. Prediction: Nope, no way.

• 2009 Oakland Raiders to win Super Bowl XLIV: 75/1

So no one saw the Cardinals coming. Or the Patriots way back when. It’s still hard to believe that Darrius Heyward-Bey is a Larry Fitzgerald, or Tom Cable in the Bill Belichick role. Hey, at least the Raiders are more highly thought of at the sportsbook this year than last: In 2008, Oakland was going off at as high as 110/1 to win Super Bowl XLIII. Prediction: Like the man said, “Can’t touch this.”

• Over/under, remaining seasons for Tom Cable as head coach: 1

It’s tempting to just say “push” here, but the key question is: Who else does Al Davis have? Cable may well be heading up this team until 2014 simply by default.

On the other hand, Uncle Al’s reputation as an axeman might be slightly exaggerated by the deliberately shoddy job Lane Kiffin turned in while he knew the end was near. Davis might just have ran with Kiffin through 2008 at least if the youngster hadn’t imploded; Davis truly trusted Kiffin like he once trusted Jon Gruden and like he probably does Cable. And with the bar set so low, Cable could whip off six-win seasons for three more years and stay in the job. Prediction: Over.

• Week one: Raiders plus-7 at San Diego

Now I remember who was brash enough to lay money on the Raiders in Week 1 of 2008 against the Broncos. (“No, no, Mr. Bookmaker,” I tried to explain later, “I meant to be betting the Week 12 game, really.”) And the Raiders’ record in Week 1 has been abysmal since – you guessed it – the season of Super Bowl XXXVII: destroyed by Denver at home last year. Destroyed by San Diego in 2006, 27-0, to begin Randy Moss’ exit from the team. An always embarrassing loss to the Rod Marinelli-led Detroit Lions in 2007.

Hello, 2009 San Diego Chargers!

While everyone with a blog and an opinion – all right, then, everyone – reckons San Diego to be dangerous, again I say they’re chargeless in 2009. And if you can’t be outlandishly optimistic in the dead zone before serious training camp, when can you? Prediction: Raiders, plus the points.
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About Os Davis

Os Davis has taken a twisted route to get to RealFootball365.com in his nearly 17 years in professional writing, working in any number of capacities in the sportswriting, news reporting and film criticism worlds. In print media, Os has served as editor at a few publications, including Albuquerque's...
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