You know the feeling you get when you reach into your pocket of your jeans, and you pull out a 20-dollar bill you had totally forgotten about? It’s a mix of surprise, happiness, and bewilderment. I mean, WOW! GREAT! HUH?
I can’t believe I found a 20-spot. This is fantastic! I can’t believe I lost a 20-spot. How could I be so stupid?
And that’s how the Raiders must be feeling right about now. With 7 weeks left in the regular season, the Raiders reached into their pocket Sunday night and found themselves in first place. A month ago they were 2-4 heading to Denver, where, as 8-point underdogs, they completely annihilated the Broncos 59-14. Today in Mile High, another blowout win for the Silver and Black, and they didn’t even play.
Hosting the Kansas City Chiefs, the Broncos did to KC what Oakland had done to them. They absolutely destroyed them. It was 35-0 at one point, before they cruised to a 49-29 victory. Before the Chiefs got out of dodge, they’d dropped their second straight game and fallen to 5-4 on the year, tied with the Raiders atop the AFC West, one game ahead of San Diego.
After last week’s overtime win over the Chiefs, the schedule broke down completely in Kansas City’s favor. You could make a compelling argument that they could win their next 4 games and be 9-3 heading into a December 12th game against the aforementioned Chargers. But now, after today’s humiliating loss, last week’s OT loss to Oakland, and the week prior to that an OT win over the then-winless Buffalo Bills, that this team is not quite the juggernaut people were making them out to be.
It’s quite clear that 10 wins is probably the magic number to win this division, which means the Raiders and/or Chiefs need to go 5-2, while the Chargers can only afford to lose once more to get to double digits.
To think that when talking about double digits, the Raiders were speaking about wins and not losses is taking some getting used to. Can this team really be in a position to fight for a playoff spot? The answer is yes–and here’s why:
They can run the ball with Darren McFadden and Michael Bush. And on the defensive side, they can finally stop the run. They may give up the occasional double to a back, but they haven’t given up a long one in quite a while. Add into the mix that they can pressure the quarterback, and you’ve got a real recipe for success. Run the ball, stop the run, pressure the QB equals wins. Keep doing that, and each game you play will become more and more important.
In other words, just keep reaching into that pocket.