x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Oakland Raiders focus on job in hand

Jason Campbell knows that Oakland's play-off fate rides on what happens in Kansas City in a game that could end just about at kick-off time in the Raiders home finale.

Tom Cable, the Oakland Raiders coach, is putting all in his energy into preparing for today’s clash with the Indianapolis Colts and is not worrying about other results.
Tom Cable, the Oakland Raiders coach, is putting all in his energy into preparing for today’s clash with the Indianapolis Colts and is not worrying about other results.

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA // Jason Campbell knows that Oakland's play-off fate rides on what happens in Kansas City in a game that could end just about at kick-off time in the Raiders home finale.

Despite the importance of what's going on 1,500 miles away as Kansas take on Tennessee, Campbell would prefer to know nothing about it until after the Raiders are done playing the Indianapolis Colts today.

"You would rather just go out and just play our game because nothing even matters if you don't handle your own business," he said. "If we don't go out and win our game, then it doesn't matter what Kansas City did or what San Diego did. We have to really focus in on what we have to do, and that's the approach."

Campbell and the Raiders (7-7) will have their hands full dealing with Peyton Manning, Dwight Freeney and the defending AFC champion Colts (8-6).

With no margin of error after some frustrating early season slip-ups, Tom Cable, the Raiders coach, knows his team cannot afford to waste any time hoping the Chiefs lose to keep the Raiders in the hunt.

"I think the only way to handle that is to win this game," Cable said. "You got to worry about that afterwards. But right now you can't be 90 per cent at Indy and 10 per cent of that other stuff so you have to be 100 per cent all in. You have to be that way."

This is unusual territory for the Raiders, who have long been eliminated by this point in the season the past seven years.

After losing at least 11 games for an NFL-worst seven straight seasons, Oakland have shown signs of progress this season with an offence that has shown big-play ability with 1,000-yard back Darren McFadden and speedy rookie receiver Jacoby Ford.

For that progress to end in a playoff berth, the Raiders need to win their final two games against Indianapolis and Kansas City, hope the Chiefs lose at home to Tennessee on Sunday and that San Diego loses one of their two away games at Cincinnati and Denver.

Even those long odds are a welcome change for the Raiders, who have not made the postseason since winning the 2002 AFC championship.

"We haven't been in the hunt this late in the season in eight years," said Shane Lechler, the Raiders punter, who was on that 2002 team.

"It's fun to come in and see what's happening around the league. I look forward to coming in here every day. This is a different atmosphere here. I enjoy it, and in times past, I would've told you different."

The Colts have a much simpler path to the post-season. They just need to win their final two games to clinch the AFC South title and tie the Dallas Cowboys with their record ninth successive play-off appearance.

If they lose, they will need some help from Jacksonville to qualify.

This is somewhat unusual for the Colts, whose biggest worry at this time of year is often whether to play the starters or rest them for a post-season bid that has already been clinched.

"It's the same type of approach," Manning said. "You have to have a real sense of urgency in the way you prepare."

After a three-game losing streak late this season, the Colts once again cannot afford to let up down the stretch.

They have rebounded to win their last two games, including what was essentially an elimination game last week against Jacksonville, and hope to carry that momentum over to the post-season.

"Most teams have to go through what we're going through right now," Freeney said.

"We're fighting until the end. It's all about the hot team. Whoever gets hot at the right time; that's what we're trying to work on right now.

"We're trying to get hot at the right time and get into the play-offs, first of all, and win our division. This is the next game of our challenge."