The last two weeks have been pretty rough for the Oakland Raiders.
The team clinched a playoff berth for the first time since 2002, and they looked like a huge threat in the AFC. Furthermore, Derek Carr was having an MVP-caliber season. Everything seemed set for the Raiders to make a deep playoff run.
And then injuries happened. The Raiders went from a Super Bowl contender to a team that would be lucky to reach the next round. And everything happened during a two-week span.
During Week 16 against the Indianapolis Colts, Oakland won 33-25 and clinched a postseason berth. But they suffered a bigger loss. After a brutal hit, Carr went down with a broken fibula and will be out for the reminder of the season.
There’s talk he might be able to return for the Super Bowl, but for that to happen Oakland needs to get there first.
Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there. Matt McGloin replaced Carr against the Colts, but he suffered a shoulder injury against the Denver Broncos in Week 17. So rookie Connor Cook had to finish the game, and all signs point towards Carr starting this weekend.
And just like that, they went from being a lock for the #2 seed to a #5 seed and a Wild Card game on the road. Luckily they’ll face the Houston Texans and not the Pittsburgh Steelers, but it’s still a less-than-ideal scenario considering the kind of season they were having.
Oakland actually had a 12-4 record, the third best in the AFC. But they will decide their fate on the road against the Texans. Like we said, it could’ve been much worse.
Oakland will be a contender for years to come in the AFC. Carr is scratching the surface of his potential, while Latavius Murray and Amari Cooper are not in their prime yet. And there’s veteran leadership on both sides of the ball. But fans and experts need to temper their expectations for the 2016 postseason.
Without Carr, it seems impossible that the Raiders will make a deep playoff run.