Marshall Faulk (@marshallfaulk) September 10, 2014
It seems strange to some to think ‘must-win' game would happen in week two of the NFL season, but here we are. Why is this a must-win? I'm glad you asked.
A loss tonight could end up resulting in an 0-4 start to the season. A season that only gets tougher after that.
The Raiders already lost to the Jets in the opener and looked downright pathetic doing so. Now they come home to face the team with the worst record in football last season in what is looking like one of their few remaining decent chances of getting a win this season.
If they drop this one, the season for Dennis Allen may just be a lot shorter.
After this game against the Texans, they head to Foxboro to face the Patriots. That is the toughest place to win in football these days outside of perhaps that noise factory in Seattle. The Patriots are 38-2 at home over the past five seasons.
Regardless of location, the Patriots are perennially one of the best teams in the league; finishing with double digit wins each of the past 11 seasons. And as long as Tom Brady is lining up behind center, that should continue.
That being said, they lost their season opening game to the Dolphins last week. Which brings us to the team the Raiders face in week four - the Dolphins.
What was originally seen as a fairly winnable game for the Raiders, isn't looking quite so promising after the 33-20 whoopin' the ‘Phins' put on the Pats. And to make matters more difficult, this Raiders ‘home game' will happen over 5000 miles away in London, England. As if their 15-game losing streak in trips to the East Coast wasn't bad enough.
If the Raiders lose Sunday against the Texans, things look bleak over the next two weeks, which means it's highly conceivable they could be winless heading into their bye week. And for a coach who was already on thin ice coming into the season after going 8-24 over his first two seasons in Oakland, a coaching change during the bye week would be a very real possibility.
Allen was already looking at his last chance to get this team headed in the right direction. Starting the season 0-4 could expedite his exodus.
Who would replace him? Consider that this off-season all the assistant coaches were re-signed to one-year deals. All except one - Assistant head coach and offensive line coach, Tony Sparano.
Sparano's position on this team makes it an easy change to hand the head job over to him as the interim head coach the rest of the season should the Raiders choose to do so. He's even been a head coach before. He was the head man in Miami for nearly four seasons, amassing a 29-32 record over that time, with one trip to the playoffs.
His two-year contract allows flexibility so if the team played well with him as head coach, he could have the interim tag removed for next season. If you'll recall, this is exactly what happened with Lane Kiffin, who was fired after week four of the 2008 season and replaced by then offensive line coach Tom Cable. Cable was well-liked by his players and returned for two more seasons as head coach.
But before we go down that hypothetical road, Dennis Allen and the Raiders must focus on the task at hand - The 1-0 Houston Texans.