Barring somewhat of a football miracle, Oakland’s brittle grasp on the top spot in the AFC West may be all but lost when the dimming lights shadow Lambeau Field Sunday.
The Raiders, who were riding a three-game winning streak into last Sunday’s road game against Miami, were dominated for the better part of four quarters on both sides of the football, losing 34-14. And this week, Oakland hits the road once again.
But this time it’ll be against the best team in football.
“This is a good football team we’re playing, but again, that’s the National Football League. We’ve got to get ready to play. It’s just that simple,” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said of facing the undefeated Green Bay Packers. “Here’s the deal — we need to get back to playing football and go win a football game. Bottom line, no ifs, ands or buts.”
Oakland will try to keep pace with fellow first-place team and divisional rival Denver, which hosts Chicago (7-5) today. And one need not be a betting expert to see that the advancing Broncos have a better chance of beating the Bears than the Raiders have of handing Green Bay its first loss.
But behind quarterback Carson Palmer, Oakland will certainly give it a go.
“It’s my favorite place to play,” Palmer said of Lambeau Field and who won there in 2009 with the Bengals. “It just reeks with history. It’s just a special place, it’s a special atmosphere.”
Despite Palmer’s enthusiasm to play on the frozen tundra, he’ll have to do so with the likelihood that he won’t be joined by offensive standouts. Running back Darren McFadden and receivers Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore were again on the all-too-familiar injury report this week.
“I think you all know this has been tough and I’ve quit trying to put percentages or days or anything on it,” Jackson said. “What I try to do with this football team is keep us afloat and just keep playing, and when those guys show back up, they’re going to show back up and I know they will at some point in time.”
Missing the aforementioned players may prove even more critical with Green Bay’s passing defense being among one of the worst in the league in yards allowed. But the Packers’ faulty defense remains dangerous and opportunistic. They’ve made a habit of converting turnovers into touchdowns, seemingly during crucial moments of play.
“They’re a ball-hawking defense, they know they want to get their offense the ball and what their offense can do with the ball so they take chances and try to force fumbles,” Palmer said.
And having considered all things, it looks like the Silver and Black will be up against it — really up against it — when they head north this weekend. But the game is played for a reason.
Raiders (7-5) vs. Packers (12-0)
WHEN: Today, 1:15 p.m.
WHERE: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
TV: CBS (KPIX, Ch. 5)
RADIO: KITS (105.3 FM), KFRC (1550 AM)