A weekly update on the AFC West, to keep up with the division and discuss the chances of the Oakland Raiders making their first playoff appearance since 2002.
The Cubs won the World Series. Donald Trump is the President of the United States. The Raiders are a legitimate first-place team in the AFC West after nine weeks.
Clearly the fall of 2016 is not obeying the rules of convention.
The Raiders are in sole possession of first place in the AFC West — equal in the loss column with the Chiefs, who have played one less game — this late in the game for the first time since 2011. That 2011 squad was smoke and mirrors, though. This team has a real shot to do something beyond for the first time since 2002.
They’ve done it in many ways. Nail-biting comebacks, holding on for dear life, ballsy two-point calls. But it was their thorough domination of defending Super Bowl champs and perennial AFC West winners the Denver Broncos that really cemented them as a team to watch.
Few took the Raiders very seriously until Sunday night. Few risk taking them lightly now. The Silver & Black march into their bye with a 7-2 record, tied with the Cowboys and Patriots for most wins in the NFL. They just played their best game of the season.
The Broncos haven’t looked themselves recently and are a little banged-up, but are still dangerous. The Chiefs continue to win with glue and duct tape and great coaching by the Walrus despite numerous key injuries and a watching paint dry offensive scheme. The Chargers are a team that probably buried themselves too far early on but that nobody wants to play now.
This division is tough, deep, and difficult.
With the Raiders enjoying a much-deserved Week 10 bye, let’s check in with the AFC West.