Raiders no longer in control of playoff destiny

604540.jpg

Raiders no longer in control of playoff destiny

MIAMI -- The most disappointing aspect of Oakland's loss to Miami on Sunday?Perhaps the fact that the Raiders no longer control their playoff destiny.Sure, a quick glance at the standings show the Raiders still sharing first place in the AFC West with Denver at 7-5. But a deeper look reveals the Broncos owning a tiebreaker and thus, the Raiders on the outside looking in if the playoffs were to begin today.Because while the Raiders and Broncos have already split their season series, the Broncos currently have a better record within the division, 3-2 to 2-2.And with a final four schedule of games at undefeated Green Bay, home against Detroit, at Kansas City and home against San Diego, how putrid the Raiders looked in all three phases of the game against the Dolphins in their 34-14 blowout and injuries severely limiting the offense, the worry on the part of Raiders fans is understandable.
Especially since the Broncos seemingly refuse to lose with Tim Tebow at quarterback and three of the Broncos' four remaining games at home.Denver's next two games are at Sports Authority Field, against a reeling Chicago and a rejuvenated New England, before hitting the road to Buffalo. The Broncos then close the season in Denver against Kansas City.If the Raiders and Broncos are still tied at the end of the season, both in overall record and division record, the third tie-breaker is "best won-lost-tied percentage in common games."Oakland and Denver will have had 12 games against 10 common opponents -- Kansas City, San Diego, Green Bay, Miami, Detroit, the New York Jets, Minnesota, Chicago, New England and Buffalo -- and right now, Denver is better there, too, going 5-3 against those teams while the Raiders are 4-4. The fourth tie-breaking procedure is "best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference," and the Broncos are 6-3 in the AFC while the Raiders are 5-5.The fifth tie-breaking procedure is "strength of victory" while the sixth tie-breaker is "strength of schedule."At 7-5, the Raiders also have the same record as wildcard leader Cincinnati and playoff contender Tennessee. But tiebreakers have Oakland currently sitting out as the No. 8 seed (six teams qualify for the playoffs in each conference, the four division winners and two wild cards).The Raiders are mindful of the Broncos catching and, technically, passing them in the standings, as evidenced by a handful of players asking for a Broncos score in the gloom of their own post-game locker room Sunday in Miami.Denver is in the driver's seat and Oakland needs helps.Still, the Raiders are keeping a stone face."The good thing is," said Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer, looking ahead to the Packers, "you've got a chance for redemption if you beat a team that's undefeated. And that can get you back on the right track."One step at a time, right?

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

Vanderdoes out to 'prove people wrong,' show Raiders his very best

ALAMEDA – Eddie Vanderdoes knows his UCLA game tape is inconsistent. The powerful defensive tackle admits he wasn’t always at his best, especially after tearing his ACL in 2015. Before that, he was difficult to stop. Afterward, he wasn’t the same player. He doesn’t blame the knee.

He struggled with ankle injuries and weight issues in 2016, a lackluster campaign by his own standard. Since that season ended, Vanderdoes has returned to 100 percent. His ankles are fine. His knee is great. And he lost 40 pounds heading into the NFL scouting combine, preparing for a return to his old self.

The Raiders see great potential in the former Bruin and made him their third-round pick on Friday evening. The Auburn native was excited by the prospect, and believes the Raiders will get his absolute best. His voice was passionate, his determination clear even on a conference call with local press.

“I am going to be the player I was earlier in my career,” Vanderdoes said. “I had a bad season. That wasn’t me. That’s not the person that I am. That’s not the character that I hold. I’m definitely going to bring that to the Raiders’ defensive line. I’m going to bring that energy and I’m really happy to be an Oakland Raider.”

The Raiders will be thrilled if that’s true. They liked what he showed at the Senior Bowl and the NFL scouting combine, where he showed traits that should translate to NFL production.

“I am definitely back 100 percent, very confident with the combine, the Senior Bowl,” Vanderdoes said. “I got my explosiveness back. I got my speed back, my athleticism back. I am definitely at the top of shape right now, so I’m ready to get back to work and show them the player that they saw on the film and the player that they wanted to draft and I’m also looking to turn even more heads and do things that some people might expect that I couldn’t do.”

That includes rushing the passer, being a consistent three-down tackle in the Raiders scheme. He might be a rotational player first, filling the void created when Stacy McGee left in free agency.

“He’s a good, active defensive lineman that we think his best football is in front of him,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “He had an ACL (injury) a couple of years ago. His weight has been up and down. We expect him to come in here and be a real professional and work hard with (head strength and conditioning coach) Joe Gomes and the strength staff and get himself ready to roll. He needs to come in here and add depth to our defensive line and give us a little interior push.”

Vanderdoes believes he can do more than that if he does things right. If his weight stays down, strength stays up and he learns the system well, he wants to compete for a significant role as a rookie.

“I’m coming in expecting to contribute and play right away,” Vanderdoes said. “That’s the mindset that I’ve always had. I’ve came with that mindset that I need to be the guy to step in and do what I do and dominate. I definitely think people slept on me a little bit this past offseason.

“I love the fact that (the NFL) slept on me, I think that’s what motivated me every morning waking up, knowing that I get to prove people wrong. I think I’ve done a good job so far of that, and I’m going to keep doing as well being an Oakland Raider because I know I’m at the bottom again. I have to work my way back up.”

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

Del Rio: Marshawn showed 'authentic passion' joining hometown Raiders

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have been focused on the NFL Draft the last few days, and rightfully so. Friday night, however, was the right time to ask about what happened just before.

The Raiders acquired power running back and Oakland native Marshawn Lynch. If he’s close to top form after a year away from the NFL, the Raiders offense will be tough to stop.

He’s a big physical rusher the Raiders were looking for. The Raiders were the team Lynch wants to finish his career representing. The Oakland Tech High grad and Cal alum might be the town’s most popular citizen, someone who consistently gives back to the city he loves.

Lynch was downright giddy after formally signing with the Raiders, greeting everyone in the building with child-like enthusiasm. He got fitted in his Raiders helmet and refused to take it off, wearing it out of the building and the car ride home.

Del Rio loved the energy Lynch brought to the team’s complex, and believes that will carry on while he represents the Silver and Black.

“Authentic passion. That’s what I see,” Del Rio said Friday night. “He’s a homegrown guy. He’s extremely excited about joining this football team and being a part of the Raider Nation. We’re excited to have him.”

Lynch is a bruiser of the highest order, though some may wonder how effective he can be at 31, a year removed from professional football.

“There will be questions about how much is left in his tank, and we’re going to find out,” Del Rio said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone else be more excited, more pleased to be joining a team, my team, our team.”

Del Rio understands where Lynch is coming from. The Hayward native longed to be a Raider at some point in his career, but never got the chance.

I told him he was lucky, because I didn’t get a chance to do that as player. I wanted to finish here as a player too. He’s getting that chance and he’s fired up about it.

“He’s a big man, and he plays with the violence that we like and appreciate. I think he’ll look forward to running behind (the Raiders offensive line) and those guys up front.”