This game also, perhaps like so many other crossroads at which the Jackson and Cable coached predecessors came, offers the chance for Dennis Allen and the Raiders to cement themselves as that Raider team once again, the one that all too often has everything else lay itself out perfectly for them to take control provided they... just win, only to come up short once again.
Raider Nation has grown beyond disappointed with a team falling short of expectations way too much in the first quarter of the season, and continuing to do so in failing to produce red zone points and in getting the most out of its play-makers, most notably Darren McFadden.
This is one of those defining moments for the silver and black. Though the team has fought valiantly to stay in a close loss to the Falcons and edge an overtime win vs. the Jaguars, the 2012 team has raised as many questions as they have put to rest doubts but has shown heart of late despite fighting through tough injuries. So who will this team be?
There has been a foul taste in the mouth of fans despite the legitimate arrival of the defense since the bye week and coming off a win. Prior to the season, most discussions of the Raiders' potential hurdles were McFadden's health and the loss of defensive players to free agency at key positions.
Now, heading into week 8, fans are left wondering if they'll have to sit through watching Knapp's failed attempts at putting square pegs in round holes, sprinkled with the occasional successful drive via the no-huddle or other audible out of another questionable call and if coach Allen will ever intervene. There are striking similarities here with the way offensive minded coach Hue Jackson ignored his defensive coordinators ineptitude.
It's a special kind of disappointment when almost every fan knows their teams' players are capable of doing better as they have seen it. It's especially hard to watch players find sporadic success in spite of their leadership, and not instead finding a symbiotic relationship where together both the team and staff become something special.
It's also extremely difficult to watch that definition of insanity that says "doing the same thing over and over and expecting results" manifest itself on the football field Sunday after Sunday and the occasional Monday... and Thursday. You get the point.
All schemes, coordinators, and personnel aside, when fans know players are being stifled by a system, an organization is in dangerous territory. Though this team is quite different than the Hue Jackson and Tom Cable teams, one thing remains constant; there is no shortage of "experts", armchair quarterbacks, and fantasy GM's in Raider Nation that are sure they could somehow do better.
The prior regimes here in Oakland demonstrated exactly how to build a playbook around their weapons. They even retain the master playbook from which the majority of said plays were derived. It seems stubborn and as indicated before, borderline insane to not evolve at this point of the game.
Though this contributor's perspective and others have been called negative here on S&BP of late, I will continue to state my expectations have never lowered and it stems merely from disappointment. Longtime fans know too well how the painful-to-watch games unfurl week after week.
First downs are hard to come by in this league. Wins are extremely difficult, and it rarely matters much how poorly your opponent has done prior to coming into the week, and that can be said for both the Raiders and Chiefs entering this battle in Arrowhead.
The Raiders need this one to define themselves as a new Raider team in the McKenzie era. It's a chance for Allen to either establish himself as a legitimate coach with a bright future in the league or take several steps back for both himself and the team.