Derek Carr

USA Today

Niners vs. Raiders

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for Thursday Night Football.

November 01, 2018 - 11:16 am

It’s Thursday, which means it’s time for Thursday Night Football. And in the past, that has been a recipe for jokes about bad pizza, bad sex, and bad football – as in there’s no such thing as any of that. But let’s be honest, it does feel like for the first few years of TNF, the Bengals were playing in the rain just about every week. And the game were always terrible.

But not anymore. The Thursday Night games have actually been pretty good lately. For example, Week 3 – the epic game in Cleveland that finally snapped the Browns losing streak. That wasn’t the best Thursday night game ever, it was the best Thursday night ever. 

And that was followed up by Jared Goff’s near perfect game in the shootout with Minnesota that announced that football was back in Los Angeles. 

And that’s the other thing: it was Minnesota at Los Angeles, a really great matchup. Because the matchups have been better in Thursday night lately.

So you can have all your jokes about Thursday Night Football, I’m going to have my television turned onto this Thursday night game between, let me just check the schedule, the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers. 




You know what they say, you can throw out the records when the Niners and Raiders get together. And you better throw out those records, because the records are 1 and 6 facing 1 and 7. A combined 2 wins and 13 losses taking the field tonight in primetime. 

And it would be easy to clown the schedule makers for this one. Why on earth would you put two terrible teams like this into primetime? Easy, because they weren’t supposed to be this bad.

And the 49ers wouldn’t have been this bad if Jimmy G hadn’t shredded his knee in September. But the moment his leg went, so did their season. Remember, this Niners team had started to turn it around last year and they was actually some buzz around Kyle Shanahan, Jimmy, and the team that John Lynch was putting together. 

And then they lost their franchise quarterback. And then their backup got injured. So they might be starting someone named Nick Mullens tonight. And no, he’s not a lucky fan contest winner. He’s an actual quarterback, thank you very much.

Sure, he hasn’t taken an NFL snap in his life, but just listen to this praise from Kyle Shanahan: "(He is) as ready as you can be. Nick's a very smart guy who works at it nonstop. He'll be able to go in there and execute the offense and knows what he's doing. I thought he played well in the preseason. Nick comes in there, moves the chains, competes hard, made some plays with his legs and his arm. Guys believe in him and he's as competitive and confident as a guy I've been around."

Notice there isn’t a ton of praise for his talent or natural ability, just a lot of love for his attitude. That’s great. As is the endorsement that he’ll be “as ready as you can be.” I’m not cracking on Shanahan, I’d be doing a giant shrug if I had to start Nick Mullens too.

So the Niners have an excuse. A football thing happened to them. 

The Raiders on the other hand, don’t really have much of an excuse. A football thing did not happen to them. A Jon Gruden thing happened to them. He rolled into town and instead of turning the clock back to the 12-4 year that they had in 2016, he’s turned it back to 4-12 years. If they’re lucky. 

You don’t need me to remind you what he’s done: trading Khalil Mack, losing the locker room, losing a ton of games, and turning a 6-win team into a two or three win team.

The biggest win of the season wasn’t their actual win, it was the Amari Cooper trade.  

I don’t think this was what Mark Davis was expecting when he signed Gruden to that fat deal. At least, nobody publicly was talking about a demolition and rebuild at that time. Instead, they’re paying Bill Belichick money for Joe Bugel results. And at this rate, they’ll be lucky to reach the dizzying heights of Joe Bugel’s 4-12 season. 

But don’t get it twisted, there is still a lot at stake tonight. Like the inside track for the top pick in the draft. These two juggernauts are battling it out with the New York Giants and fortunately for the Giants, one of these teams has to win. Unless they somehow both find a way to lose. And that’s the only way the viewer will win.