On the surface, Sunday’s game between the Tennessee Titans (1-1) and Oakland Raiders (1-1) looks like a matchup between two teams with polar opposite philosophies.
Oakland’s high-wire passing approach versus Tennessee’s smash mouth ball control approach.
But when you look closer at both franchises, there are more similarities than differences.
Both franchises were founded by legendary AFL owners that are no longer with us. Raiders owner Al Davis passed away in October of 2011, and Oilers / Titans owner Bud Adams passed away in October of 2013.
Both franchises were inherited by family members. Mark Davis is now at the helm in Oakland after taking over for his father, and Amy Adams Strunk is now the controlling owner in Tennessee after taking over for her father.
Both franchises were uprooted by their late founding-father owners as well. Al Davis moved his Raiders to Los Angeles, then back to Oakland. Bud Adams moved his Oilers to Nashville to start anew as the Titans.
There are eerie similarities between the two franchises on the field, too.
Both teams are in the midst of long playoff droughts. Oakland last made the post season in 2002. Tennessee in 2008.
As a result, both franchises brought in new general managers, and by all accounts, both hit home runs with their selections.
Oakland hired Reggie McKenzie as their new general manager in 2012, and all he’s done since then was draft the players that would become the cornerstones of their franchise today in quarterback Derek Carr, receiver Amari Cooper, running back Latavius Murray, and linebacker Khalil Mack.
To no one’s surprise, McKenzie was rewarded with a contract extension this offseason.
Tennessee hired Jon Robinson as their new general manager in January, and all he’s done since then was pull off a trade for DeMarco Murray…giving up basically nothing in return.
Robinson also flipped this year’s number one overall pick into several picks, and in return he netted a franchise right tackle in Jack Conklin, a bruising tailback of the future in Derrick Henry, and future defensive star in sack specialist Kevin Dodd…all in the first 45 picks of this year’s draft.
Tennessee also netted the Los Angeles Rams’ all important first round pick next year, one that figures to land in the top ten given LA’s projected struggles this season.
With their franchise quarterbacks in place, fan bases of both franchises entered this offseason with realistic expectations for improvement.
The Raiders were a trendy playoff pick all summer, and while the expectations aren’t as high in Tennessee, another 2-14 or 3-13 season would be an unacceptable outcome for the Titans.
The two teams meet Sunday at high noon with a chance to move to 2-1, and stay right in the thick of their respective division races.
And both teams will take the field believing this is a game they should win.