Imagine the Raiders entering Sunday’s game against the 49ers at O.co Coliseumwith a 7-5 record and a postseason appearance still a possibility.
Interim coach Tony Sparano would be looking for a house to buy, certain to be rewarded a multiyear contract at the end of the season. The team’s confidence would be at its highest since 2002, and Raider Nation would be giddy with a winning record 12 games into the season after so many losing campaigns and frustrating losses.
But in the NFL, one team’s dream season is another’s nightmare.
The 49ers will wear that 7-5 record the Coliseum like an anvil hanging from their neck.
The 49ers’ ship that has sailed into three consecutive NFC championship games is taking on water because its inept offense has been run aground by coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Greg Roman. And no matter how hard the defense tries to bail out a team struggling to keep from sinking, talk of a 49ers Super Bowl appearance has been overthrown by speculation of a Harbaugh trade to Oakland or the New York Jets – and the owner apologizing to fans via Twitter for the team’s “unacceptable” performance last week against the Seattle Seahawks.
So what do the 49ers need to brighten one of darkest periods of the Harbaugh era? A date with the 1-11 Raiders, who were embarrassed in St. Louis 52-0, right?
Uh, not so fast.
As many young players as the Raiders have, there are veterans with enough pride to make a stand against a winning football team at home. The Raiders will try to recapture the spirited effort two weeks ago that led to a 24-20 victory against Kansas City in their most recent home game.
If the Raiders can beat Alex Smith and the Chiefs, they certainly can beat Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers.
And if the 49ers lose in Oakland, their season will be lost as well.
– Victor Contreras
What to watch
NBA, Kings vs. Raptors,
7 p.m., CSNCA, NBA: The Kings try to end a three-game losing streak; Toronto tries to avoid losing its third in a row.
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