OAKLAND – NFL Films once proclaimed that “The Autumn Wind is a Raider.” In 2017, winter is shaping up to be a cruel mistress, much like a fluttering Geno Smith pass into a swirling wind. This season’s slate of NFL action will ultimately be remembered for protests and bickering with the President, which in the realm of social action isn’t insignificant. Besides battling Trumpian forces, there’s one major element that the NFL is hiding in 2017: the games are mostly atrocious.
When the schedule was announced, many prognosticators pointed to the Giants-Raiders tussle in Oakland being one of the marquee match-ups of the season’s interconference schedule. Following successful 11-5 and 12-4 seasons respectively, expectations were high for Big Blue and the Silver and Black. So high, in fact, that I decided to book a flight up the California coast in anticipation of a game that could have massive playoff implications. At 2-9 and 5-6, 2017 has been a major letdown for both fan bases.
These two teams epitomize the unpredictable nature of the NFL. Teams rise and fall in a frantic nature, where they’re equally likely to power towards a playoff berth or careen to a top-10 pick. There’s no clear-cut top team — if anything, it would be the Patriots by default, because they’re the Patriots — and mediocrity has bogged down the promise of many squads to nearly unwatchable levels.
The Giants’ death march to 2-14 seems inevitable. Former New York GM Jerry Reese couldn’t hide from an embarrassing draft record — in particular, the past half-decade, other than Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins. The years of bad picks, poor free agent signings, and Ereck Flowers finally caught up with Big Blue.
On the flip side, Oakland seemed to have one of the more promising cores in all of the NFL heading into this season. Between Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, along with formidable role players, steady lines and strong depth, the team dug out of the rubble from the end of Al Davis’ tenure to become relevant. This year has been a tougher climb than expected for the Silver and Black. Their record in one-score games last year was sterling, but this year things evened out, which is how they’ve already managed to lose more games in 2017 than all of last year.