Raiders and Falcons heading in opposite directions

The Oakland Raiders and Atlanta Falcons finished with identical 4-12 records in 2007, but there is very little in common between them other than the field they shared Sunday afternoon. The Falcons shut out the Raiders, 24-0, in Week 9 and now Atlanta is talking about the playoffs. The Raiders, meanwhile, are looking at another rebuilding season.

Jonathan Lockett of the Contra Costa Times notes that one of the biggest differences between these two teams is the QB position.

    When JaMarcus Russell was taking snaps at the Raiders’ practice facility last year, Matt Ryan was at Boston College on a quest for a national title. On Sunday, though, it seemed Ryan was the veteran quarterback ready to lead his run-first team to the Promised Land, while Russell was still figuring out the professional game. MORE

Nancy Gay of the San Francisco Chronicle says that the rift goes even further than the two young quarterbacks. See takes a look at the top.

    The blueprint for NFL renewal was on display Sunday at the Coliseum. The rookie head coach, the rookie quarterback, the free-agent running back brimming with talent and character. The contagious team-first attitude that motivates older and younger players alike. By now, we know none of this will be found on the Oakland sideline. MORE

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