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Raiders better off than Bears

The Oakland Raiders have spent much of the current century as an NFL laughing stock. As they come to Soldier Field Sunday they are a far more serious competitor than the Bears.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland Raiders, while a proud franchise in their own right, have been a laughing stock of the league for a long, long time.

I can (barely) remember when the Raiders were good. Back when they had Tim Brown and young Charles Woodson and strong-armed re-tread QBs who could sling it like Rich Gannon or Jeff George.

Then they fell apart. Out came Norv Turner, Art Shell, Lane Kiffin, Andrew Walter, Jamarcus Russell and on and on.

The Raiders have been the poster child for ineptitude, especially when it comes to hiring coaches (nine in 14 seasons) and drafting (Fastest 40 time = Raiders draft pick).

As this blog and SBNation itself have exploded in popularity and the average age of blog user seems to be creeping younger, I would venture a guess that there are a good amount of readers who don't remember the last time the Raiders were in the playoffs (2002) or possibly even knew that they were once good.

The Bears, while no NFL juggernaut on the regular, have managed to stay out of full-on NFL joke until the last two seasons.

Even when the Bears were "bad" they've been in that no-man's land of forgettable 7--9-to-9-7 teams. When the wheels finally came off last year though, the Bears began creeping into that "easy stock joke for bad NFL teams." Suddenly it was "Cutler's going to Cutler" and "the Bears doing Bears things."

While it's still not to the level of teams like the Cleveland Browns or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, (and God bless their long-suffering fans who stick by them) Bears fans are finding themselves in that bottom rung of the NFL ladder area.

Even when things have been at their bleakest, fans often fell back on the old "at least we're not the Raiders" quip to make themselves feel better. But come Sunday, I can't help but wonder which team is way better off?

Outside of Kyle Long is there any player on the Bears that with the upmost certainty a fan can say "Yeah I want that guy on my team next year?" This team has a decent coaching staff, but where is the young talent that are the building blocks for a future playoff run?

The Raiders are a modest 2-1 but are led by a young QB who is showing promise in Derek Carr. Carr, even in just his 19th career start, is beginning to look like a player. Through three games he's completing 64 percent of his passes, thrown five touchdowns versus just one pick and has a QB rating over 100.

Carr has been throwing to rookie sensation Amari Cooper, who looks every bit the WR he was advertised when he was in this spring's draft. Cooper has 290 yards and a TD on just 20 catches.

Their final young piece is third-year RB Latavius Murray, who comes in averaging 4.8 yards per carry and has a pair of TDs. Those three players are ages 24, 21 and 25.

On defense, the Silver and Black boast Khalil Mack, a beast of a defensive player with two sacks and a forced fumble already on the young season.

The Bears on the other hand are trading off players for late-round picks and evaluating a below average roster for players that might be able to stick around for when or if things get better.

Not long ago, Raiders GM (and Packers disciple) Reggie McKenzie was on the hot seat. McKenzie was a huge hire at the time back in 2012 but his teams have won only 11 game since he came in. Pundits were calling for his job, but now, he's got a young stable of talent to point to as a resume booster.

The team, coming off a 3-win campaign in 2014, is already one win shy of tying that mark and the season isn't a full month old yet.

It's way to early to turn on GM Ryan Pace or the process he is going through, but, believe it or not, the Raiders are actually a model for what the Bears have ahead of them and what they need to do in order to get back to the top of the NFL pecking order.