The Oakland Raiders were the laughingstock of the NFL for nearly 12 years.
After coming up short in Super Bowl XXXVII against the Tampa Bay Bucs to finish out the 2002 season, the Raiders haven’t managed a single winning season since then. And they’ve only won more than five games twice.
The Tennessee Titans do not have that kind of track record of futility. But few would argue that the team seems to be heading in that direction.
There’s no guarantee that the Raiders will finish the 2015 season with a winning record. However, at 4-6 and playing perhaps their best football in years, their chances are better than they’ve been in a long time.
Oakland enters Nissan Stadium on Sunday as the favorite. That shouldn’t shock anyone since it’s been over 400 days since the Titans have won a home game.
But again, this is the Raiders. When did they start playing the favorite?
The Raiders have managed to turn things around by identifying their franchise quarterback – David Carr – and building a roster that compliments him.
The Titans have identified their own franchise quarterback in Marcus Mariota. But they haven’t built a roster that can get the most out of Mariota’s potential.
The result? The Raiders are a team that has taken a step forward. The Titans are a team on the verge of cementing itself as the worst franchise in the NFL.
Five years ago, the latter would have been a complete afterthought. You probably would have said that no one could ever be as bad as the Raiders.
Unfortunately for Titans fans, this franchise is getting close. And while the Titans are on the decline, the Raiders are finally getting it together.
Sunday’s game could really hammer home this point.
After losing in Jacksonville, there’s no reason to believe that the Titans are better than the Raiders. Although Oakland has lost three straight games, they are a better overall team than Tennessee.
It shouldn’t be that way. After a 2-14 campaign, the Titans should have been better. However, a home game against Jacksonville next week is the best chance they’ll have of winning more than two games this season.
Another 2-14 season would be a complete failure.
And that’s where ownership once again comes into play. Is the current Titans ownership capable of putting the pieces in place to prevent a third straight failure?
Or more importantly, are they capable of making the decisions that will prevent the Titans from becoming the new Raiders?
That’s the million dollar question right now. Titans fans have little confidence that they do, and that’s a problem.
But it all starts with the hiring of a new head coach. Titans ownership completely whiffed with Ken Whisenhunt. They can’t whiff this time.
If they do, the Titans will continue to get further and further away from a return to relevance.
Just ask the Raiders what that feels like and how long it takes to get back.
The Titans can’t become the Raiders of the past 10 years. Instead, they have to become the Raiders of 2015.
Who would have thought we’d ever be saying such a thing?