Question: What do the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, and San Diego Chargers have in common?
Answer: They all came close to losing to the winless Oakland Raiders this season.
Answer 2: They're the last three teams to beat the Denver Broncos, the Raiders' opponent this week.
Throw records out the window. The Raiders are 0-8, but both John Fox and Peyton Manning said virtually the same thing Wednesday regarding their Week 10 opponent.
"We don't look at records; we look at tape," said Fox.
"I really don't look at their record," said Manning. "I look at what I see on film."
So we did that, and looking at tape shows a Raiders team that has had some close calls and is at least a little better than its winless record would indicate. Let's revisit some of their close calls, particularly against these three teams that beat the Broncos stretching back to late 2013.
Week 2: Raiders 9 at Patriots 16
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One-sentence recap: Raiders defense forces three Patriots field goals but can't muster the points in the game's final minute.
Scouting report: The Patriots weren't yet in world-beating mode, but the Raiders still deserve credit for stifling some of what Tom Brady wanted to do in his 2014 home opener. They also deserve credit for marching down the field 50 yards in the game's final two minutes to make things very, very interesting. Unfortunately, Vince Wilfork's interception - and a ticky-tack holding penalty a few plays earlier - made sure they didn't get in the end zone on their last drive.
Week 6: Chargers 31 at Raiders 28
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One-sentence recap: Raiders rookie QB Derek Carr throws four touchdowns in Tony Sparano's interim coaching debut.
Scouting report: Easily his most successful game to date, Carr threw four touchdowns and just one interception as he and the Chargers exchanged one touchdown every quarter. Oakland and San Diego combined for over 800 yards of offense, with about 120 of Carr's yards coming on just two deep touchdown passes.
In fact, the Chargers actually needed to mount a comeback in the game's fourth quarter as they trailed 28-21, only taking the lead with 1:56 remaninig. Chargers rookie DB Jason Verrett sealed the win with a late, deep interception that was a decent throw by Carr; Raiders WR Brice Butler just didn't fight for it enough.
Week 9: Raiders 24 at Seahawks 30
Otto Gruele Jr
One-sentence recap: Special teams and defense nearly make up for three first half turnovers.
Scouting report: Any given Sunday. There's no way the Seahawks overlooked the Raiders; they had lost two of their last three games, and their most recent win against the Carolina Panthers was a 13-9 slugfest won late in the game.
No, the Raiders came into Seattle and shocked the Seahawks in their stadium with a handful of big plays in the second half, none bigger than a punt block that turned a 24-3 rout into a lot of momentum for the visiting team. Russell Wilson had his second-worst game of the season (Khalil Mack registered six hurries and two hits), and the Raiders nearly recovered the onside kick that would have given them a chance to win.
Carr had his struggles - he threw two first-half interceptions that put the Raiders behind big - but he made up for those with a good second half performance that included this 4th down play.
In their first close game, the Raiders' defense nearly delivered the upset. In their second close game, Derek Carr and the Raiders offense kept up with Philip Rivers and company. In their third close contest, Oakland's special teams delivered a crucial punt return TD and nearly recovered a game-threatening onside kick.
The Raiders are a team that have shown success in all three phases of football, just at different times. If they can put two or even three of those successes together in the same game, they can give another team - like the Broncos in Week 10 - a run for their money.