Warren Sapp might have said something correct given enough time and given enough statements (even a broken Cuckoo clock is correct at the certain point in time). Sapp says, "the Raiders cannot stand success." The statement, elaborated, suggests that the Raiders tend toward complacency, celebrate wins excessively and react to loses too gracefully, don't play the entire 60-minutes, give up leads by carelessness and not finishing, consider halftime leads as sufficient to call it a day, etc.
Well, the man may have an argument using Week 9 as an example. With the division up for grabs, Oakland heads for the lockeroom at halftime leading Denver 17 - 7 just as the final score of Miami's upset victory over KC (31 - 3) is announced at "The O"; cheers grow louder as that good news is followed by the halftime score of G.B. leading San Diego 28 - 17. Oakland begins the 3rd Quarter sluggish and dull and Denver takes over the game - scoring on its first drive and then scoring again and again and again and again (5 times) while Oakland manages only one score the entire 2nd half and loses what seems a sure victory.
The feast-famine dynamic of the Raiders is a fact but Sapp's assertion of the cause of that dynamic is not a fact that is absolutely provable.
All of us have our own idea of why the feast-famine dynamic has settled in the East-Bay. My own theory (which is no more or less a fact than Sapp's) is that the "Just Win, Baby" mentality that was glorified on a daily basis throughout virtually the entire history of the Raiders is the root cause of our dysfunction. That philosophy glorifies "just getting by" and reminds me of a friend who had straight A's through school but rarely, and certainly not intentionally, ever had a grade over 91% (just enough to get the A was what Ed was most proud of ... no wasted effort). To me the just win philosophy cannot be maintained alongside the Raider standard, "Commitment to Excellence" ... unless one is to adopt Ed's definition of excellence which I believe is a subjective, even a perverse, usage of the word "excellence."
At any rate, my point is this: regardless of the cause of the Raiders dysfunctional (feast-famine) dynamic, it does seem they do better when confronted by challenge. I trust them to win games against stronger opponents while being anxious when they face weaker ones AND I believe the Raiders need some challenge in their own division to make them play better. Now, K.C. is basically out of it and given San Diego's schedule, and what they've looked like thus far, the Chargers are also though. That leaves only the upstart and ascending Broncos now 4-5 to challenge us for the division and they have the lighter schedule.
If you've dismissed what's been written here thus far, ask yourself this, "If Denver wins Thursday and goes to 5 - 5, will that have any affect on the way the Raiders' (5 - 4) play Sunday?"