NFL Week 6 storylines: How will Raiders look in post-Gruden era?

Denver Broncos inside linebacker Josey Jewell (47) tackles Las Vegas Raiders tight end Darren Waller (83) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Denver. (Jack Dempsey/AP)

It was great to be a Raiders fan for the first three weeks of the 2021 season. Your team was 3-0, had upset the Ravens and was averaging 30 points per game.

Suffice to say the past two weeks have been a different story.

The team scored a total of 23 points and looked lifeless at times in losses to the Chargers and Bears, however the fallout from the Jon Gruden email scandal has overshadowed it all.

The head coach resigned this week after the New York Times reported Gruden had sent multiple emails containing inappropriate comments before the Raiders hiring him on a 10-year, $100 million contract in 2018.

Raiders special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia was named interim coach and this could be a blessing in disguise for a team with playoff aspirations.

“He’s got as much respect in the locker room — in our locker room — as any coach I’ve ever seen in my life,” Raiders GM Mike Mayock said of Bisaccia earlier this week. “Is he a great coach? Hell yeah. But he’s an even better man. And what I’ve always told people when I’ve endorsed him is that he’s the most natural leader of men that I’ve ever been around.”

The Raiders will attempt to turn their season around in Denver versus their AFC West rival Broncos.

LET RUSS COOK REST AND RECOVER

Is it too dramatic to argue the remainder of Seattle’s season hinges directly on how Geno Smith performs in his first start since Week 3 of the 2017 season and just his third start since the 2014 regular season finale when he was with the Jets?

Russell Wilson is a week removed from finger surgery and is expected to miss at least the next three games for the 2-3 Seahawks. Wilson had been a bona fide iron man, starting all of Seattle’s 149 regular-season and 16 post-season games since being drafted by the team back in 2012.

Smith had moderate success under difficult circumstances in a Thursday loss to the Rams. He and his teammates had a few extra days to prepare for a Sunday Night showdown in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are also 2-3 but finally have some momentum after beating the Broncos last week.

Speaking of teams needing a win …

TEAMS IN OR ON THE VERGE OF DESPERATION MODE

The NFL returns to London, England, for the second game in as many weeks when the Dolphins face the winless Jaguars.

Unlike Gruden, Urban Meyer is still hanging onto his head coaching gig despite Jaguars team owner Shad Khan publicly saying Meyer embarrassed the franchise by not flying home with his team after a Week 4 road loss to the Bengals — after which Meyer was also filmed partying at an Ohio bar.

Jacksonville was blown out by Tennessee last week and if the team falls to 0-6, it could be time to fire Meyer.

The 1-4 Dolphins don’t want to help the Jags get off the schneid, which would result in Trevor Lawrence’s first NFL win. Luckily for Miami, they could have starter Tua Tagovailoa back. The former Alabama star has been on the shelf with fractured ribs since an early exit in Week 2’s loss to the Bills.

Jacoby Brissett will get another start if there’s a change of plans and Tagovailoa doesn’t start.

If the Colts lose to the Texans and fall to 1-5 this weekend, they may as well just pack it in because it’s extraordinarily rare for teams that start that poorly to make the playoffs. On the other hand, Indy is a -9.5 favourite this week, the AFC South remains the weakest division in football, plus few are expecting the Titans to beat the Bills on Monday night. Conceivably, the Colts could be 2-4 and the Titans 3-3 come Tuesday but beating Houston like they’re supposed to is a prerequisite.

The 0-5 Lions will do everything in their power to win one for coach Dan Campbell, but a tough Bengals passing attack awaits. Chicago, Carolina and New England are all home underdogs this week in pivotal matchups against Green Bay, Minnesota and Dallas, respectively.

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