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Welcome To The Black Hole

This Sunday, rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield walks into one of the most hostile environments on the planet, Oakland’s Alameda Coliseum, and The Black Hole.

The reception Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns will receive is nothing short of terrifying. The southern end zone will be humming with Zombie Clowns, Skeletons, Pirates, Chain Rattlers and the Living Dead.

The Black Hole is an institution in Oakland. Born at the hands of Rob Rivera and a group of friends nearly 25 years ago. It was their original intention to mimic the ‘Dawg Pound’, the once famous Cleveland Browns fan base. Little did they know the legacy they would create.

Sure, they have had bad press, troubles with the law, and had some heinous things written about them over the years, but which great fan base in the world hasn’t. That’s how legends are born.

Most of the trouble has been caused by one-game wonders. People who see the color, the passion and the noise on TV and think, I want to be a part of that. Instead, they create violence and destruction and end up on the wrong side of the law.

The Black Hole is a family, who are dedicated to the Silver and Black. Shrouded in tradition, loyalty, and dedication. No one wakes up one morning and decides they will spend hours painting their body and dressing up to go to a football game just to break the law. These fans want nothing more than to see their beloved Raiders succeed.

The Seattle Seahawks talk about the value of the ‘12th man’ to the home side. The Raiders have that 10-fold. Countless times has the uproar of the crowd lifted the team to unimaginable highs. A big hit from the defense on 2nd down and the crowd rises as one, showing their commitment to the cause, and leaving the away side flustered.

The enthusiasm and intensity grow as the Raiders march downfield towards the end zone. It’s enough to give even the most sedated fan chills.

That success has been limited of late. Raider Nation hasn’t seen a win since December 3rd last year when they beat the Giants at home 24-17. The seven-game losing streak isn’t ideal, but they are close to pulling it all together.

We could sit here and beat the drum over and over about losing Khalil Mack, but it’s done and it’s time to move on.

Jon Gruden’s second coming has begun with three straight losses, though they have led every game at halftime. They just need to do the simple things well and they will find the wins coming.

The run game is ticking over with Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin, a good combination with the ball in hand, averaging 100 yards per game, but it is in the air that the Raiders have shone brightest.

Raider Nation

The team averages over 300 yards per game when Derek Carr opts to throw. That puts them 6th in the league. The ever-consistent Jared Cook and Amari Cooper are now aided by the signing of former Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson who is still among the best receivers in the game.

The playbook is endless when you have three quality receivers coupled with two great running backs.

The defense takes a different shape without Mack, but they are improving and can hold their own against anyone. Defensive end Bruce Irvin commands respect and is leading the line by example.

Marcus Gilchrist and Leon Hall have been solid in the secondary and are always up for a contest.

They have proven they can match it with anyone this season, including the undefeated Rams and Dolphins. They just cannot get across the final hurdle to get the win.

Carr has been sacked fives times and thrown five interceptions. These numbers are not flattering but can be fixed by going back to basics and doing the simple things well. That starts this week at home against the Browns.

Last weekend, the sporting world stood up and took notice when Mayfield overturned a 17 deficit, giving the Browns their first win in 635 days. But, let’s be honest, we all perform better in our own backyard. Let’s see how the kid does on 3rd and long with Raider Nation hurling abuse from Row A to the nosebleeds.

Sports Al Dente 2019

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