There's a scene in Moneyball where Brad Pitt as Billy Beane goes to the dugout and says to the then struggling A's, "This is a winning team. Now go out tonight and play like it."
I wish I could assemble the Mutant Mercenaries and tell them the same thing, but so far, no dice.
I won the award for the best draft. I have since made some pick-ups on waivers and trades that I think make my team better. Still, after five games we are 1-4 when we could be 3-2 or even with some luck 4-1. Instead, the luck has been almost all bad and we now have to struggle to get into the playoffs when I had hopes we might be trying to get enough wins to get a bye week.
And then there are the local teams, who have both been bitter disappointments for about ten years now. The Raiders and the 49ers both won their first games of the season, beat the uninspiring Broncos and Seahawks respectively. Then came week two, when the Raiders lost late to the Bills and the Niners lost late to the Cowboys, both those opponents seeming less than prepossessing at the time.
Since then, the Raiders have gone to 3-2, beating the Texans this week in an ugly game but nevertheless a win barely 24 hours after Al Davis' death. The 49ers have won three straight, including impressive drubbings of both the struggling Broncos and the allegedly solid Buccaneers in the past two weeks.
The Raiders are in a tougher division and they may have to hope for a wild card spot unless the Chargers go into a nose dive. This week's game hosting the Browns will go a long way in answering the question about whether they are contenders or pretenders.
The Niners on the other hand are in a Group of Cake rather than a Group of Death, and even if they lose on the road to the newly resurgent Lions this week, if they can go 10-6 in their division, they are pretty much a lock to get int the playoffs with a home game, especially since they still have five games left against the Seahawks, Rams and Cardinals, all of whom are somewhere between sad and laughable.
I really do think the Niners could be a playoff team this year. With a little luck, I think the Mutant Mercenaries and the Raiders might join them.
It's nice to have some hope in early October. I'll check back in early December to see if it all was just a mirage.