The Las Vegas Raiders got through a rough slate of games to start the season, and are peaking at the right time heading into the stretch.
Welcome to week 11 of the 2020 NFL season, and after a great deal of uncertainty faced the Las Vegas Raiders going into the season, they are shattering all expectations. Things such as the stability of Derek Carr‘s job, the selection of Damon Arnette in the first-round of the NFL draft, the free agency class of the Raiders this offseason, were all brought into question before the season began.
Derek Carr has quieted nearly all of his doubters, Arnette when healthy has provided stability at the cornerback position, and the free agency class while not overly impressive, has done more than enough to solidify they are vital to the Raiders current success.
With Week 11 upon us, the Raiders are in second place in the AFC West at 6-3, which is even more impressive when considering the team at the top has only one loss all season, which is to the Las Vegas Raiders.
This week is a huge one for the Raiders, almost a make or break game in terms of playoff trajectory. I am not saying the Raiders are out of contention with a loss, but to win this game vs the first place Kansas City Chiefs would put Las Vegas in prime position to not only make the playoffs, but win the AFC West.
This franchise has not won the division since 2002, but this year feels different. With much more confident quarterback play from incumbent seventh-year starter Derek Carr, a nearly unstoppable one-two punch from running backs Josh Jacobs and Devontae Booker, and a bevy of talent from the receiving corps, the offense is off the charts in terms of consistent play and putting points on the board.
Now, the defense has been shaky at times, but it seems to be collecting itself right in time for the huge showdown this week with the Chiefs. In fact, over the last three games, the Raiders have only allowed 44 points, a far cry from a team that previously was allowing over 30 points per game.
The overall team as a whole is peaking. For all the cries for Paul Guenther to be removed from his post as defensive coordinator, the defense seems to really be turning it around by forcing more pressure on the quarterback and improving drastically from a season ago in man coverage.
At 6-3, it is no longer a secret the Raiders have the chance to be an underdog Super Bowl contender. With key victories over the New Orleans Saints and the Chiefs, the Raiders are showing they can contend with anyone at anytime.
Head coach Jon Gruden has really led this team to some impressive form, this considering the many setbacks due to COVID-19 and frequent injuries among the team.
The Raiders are on a three game winning streak and are peaking at the absolute best time as they look to sweep the defending super bowl champion Chiefs, a team coming off a bye who at 8-1 have only been figured out by the Raiders.
The first game vs the Chiefs was a shootout to the end, and Las Vegas may have to follow suit to garner another victory in Vegas this week. Nevertheless with an improved and more confident team heading into Week 11, the time is not in the future for the Raiders, but the time seems to finally be now.