Greetings, Raider fans! It is I, RaiderDamus the Great and Powerful. Pay no attention to the hermit behind the curtain. I come to you this week riding a hot air balloon, having successfully predicted yet another Raider defeat. It is a depressing fact, but "predicting the Raiders to lose" has become the easiest job since San Diego hired its first weatherman. "What's the weather going to be like this week, Bob?" "It will be sunny and nice! Also the Raiders will lose. Back to you!"
This week the Raiders go out of the frying pan and straight into the flames of Mount Doom, hosting the AFC-best Denver Broncos. It used to be that the Broncos were a hapless franchise, never able to replace John Elway with anyone adequate much like Miami was never able to replace Dan Marino. However, John Elway in his infinite fortune stumbled into Peyton Manning's free agency like a snooping teenage boy stumbling into a room full of naked girls.
The universe could not have smiled on Elway more, except for the tiny fact that Peyton Manning hates the cold more than a tropical fish. The Super Bowl this year will be played in New Jersey on a day which the Farmer's Almanac predicts will feature bitter cold and a howling blizzard. Manning will be a meat popsicle by halftime, if he even reaches the game at all. Even if Denver were to secure home-field advantage, it isn't any sort of advantage because Denver is located in the Rocky Mountains which in January may as well be base camp of Mt. Everest. It is a nasty place. If you pee off your balcony, the stream will freeze and you will have to break it off. Manning found this out the hard way, which is why he always has that pained look on his face.
The Raiders, on the other hand, have nothing whatsoever to play for except to make the Broncos play the AFC Championship game in New England. They are starting Terrelle Pryor in the game, which will tell them definitively what they should have known since the Titans game- the Raiders' quarterback of the future is not on the roster currently. Pryor has shown athleticism and McGloin has shown moxie and leadership, but neither have the combination of those skills that is required for success in the NFL. The AFC West has turned into one of the more competitive divisions in football and without a superlative talent at quarterback, the Raiders will be stuck at the bottom for years to come. This year the Raiders needed a QB who could lead a talentless team to glory, much like Archie Manning did with his awful Saints team back in his day, or Tom Brady this season or what Aaron Rodgers has done with the two previous years' Packers teams. For proof of his greatness, try watching the team without Rodgers. You will be screaming for Geno Smith's rookie year highlight reel before the end of the first quarter.
Next season, after Reggie McKenzie has had another full draft and has used the $60M in cap space, perhaps the Raiders won't need a signal-caller to do quite so much. If that's the case, perhaps Pryor or McGloin would be adequate but I just don't see either of them rising to the level of a Super Bowl quarterback. The caveat here is that stiffs like Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson and Joe Flacco are Super Bowl champion quarterbacks but those teams all had stellar defensive units that the Raiders lack. The team needs to improve across the board if they want to start a mediocre quarterback, but unfortunately the fastest way to quickly turn around a team is to employ an elite-level quarterback. Notice what happened to the Eagles this season after Michael Vick went down and Nick Foles was the healthy starter. They look like an offensive juggernaut and just dropped over 50 points on the Bears. That's what elite quarterback play can do for you. The Raiders have fooled around with the position since Rich Gannon and haven't drafted an elite quarterback since Ken Stabler in 1968. How many of you were born in 1968? Show of hands. I assure you all, if Peyton Manning were the Raiders quarterback we would be where Denver is right now, and this article would have a decidedly more positive tone.
I look for the Raiders to use free agency to bolster the defense. Guys like Henry Melton, Aqib Talib and Jairus Byrd may be on the open market. If the Raiders want to make a play for Jay Cutler, that would be a risk given the state of the team's offensive line. There aren't any other desirable free agent quarterbacks on the market unless you enjoy the cut of Josh Freeman's jib, so if the Raiders shy away from Cutler or if the Bears franchise him then the draft is the way to go. This draft will be chock-full of quality quarterbacks, although I'd prefer if the team waited until round 2 because the team needs a star wide receiver more than anything. I've long been in favor of trading down and taking Marqise Lee, although Mike Evans or Sammy Watkins would also do wonders in Silver and Black. As the quality in this year's quarterback draft class goes some twenty names deep, talented guys like AJ McCarron, Zach Mettenberger and Tajh Boyd could be available to the Raiders then after they address a need like WR or OT.
My ranting and raving is over now and for the rest of the season. As always, RaiderDamus will return next season to bring you more tidings from the Great Beyond. I'll probably be covering the draft as well, with live coverage as well as draft previews like I did before the 2013 draft. Go Raiders.
Broncos win, 38-20.