Las Vegas Raiders can prove to be legitimate playoff contenders in Weeks 11 and 12

The Las Vegas Raiders next two games will prove whether or not they are legitimate playoff contenders in a wide-open AFC.
Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders
Kansas City Chiefs v Las Vegas Raiders / Jeff Bottari/GettyImages

On Halloween night, Las Vegas Raiders team owner finally made the move most of Raider Nation was hoping for. Davis fired head coach Josh McDaniels after a terrible 25-game stretch at the helm of the team, and sent packing along with him both offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi and general manager Dave Ziegler.

In his place, Davis placed the interim head coach tag on Antonio Pierce, a former star player for the New York Giants, and the team's current linebacker coach. Since taking over as head coach, it has been nothing but good vibes around the Silver and Black, as they have won two straight and put themselves back in the conversation in the AFC Playoff race.

However, those two wins came against both New York teams that play their home games in New Jersey, as they beat the New York Giants 30-6 in Week 9, and then the New York Jets 16-12 on Sunday night. The wins moved the Raiders back to .500 on the season, but it will be the two games left before their bye week that will prove whether or not the team is a legitimate playoff contender.

Raiders have two tough games ahead of them before the bye week

The first matchup ahead of the Raiders is the Miami Dolphins on the road, a team that many expect to make a deep run in the playoffs this season. The Dolphins have been a bit of a mystery this season, however, as they have feasted on bad teams while struggling against the best of the best, including the Kansas City Chiefs.

Miami has the kind of offense that can put up points in a hurry, as shown in their 70-point outburst against Denver, but they also have had their issues this season as well. Playing in South Beach is also never an easy task, as Miami likes to put their opponents on the sunny sideline, which can play to their advantage.

After the Miami game, it will be a game against the hated Chiefs, a team that many expect to be back in the Super Bowl this season. The Chiefs are once again the favorite to win the AFC West, but that will be a home game right before the bye week, and the Raiders have played the Chiefs tough at home in recent memory.

The truth is, the two wins against the Jets and Giants were needed, but they were not a great barometer into how good this Raiders team could be. After the loss to the Raiders, the Giants ended up getting blown out by the Dallas Cowboys, and are in prime position to get a top pick in next year's draft.

The Jets, while strong on defense, are atrocious on offense, so the Dolphins and Chiefs will present the Raiders defense with their first real test since Pierce took over as head coach. Maybe the Raiders shock the NFL landscape and at least come out with a split in these two games, but if they lose both, going into the bye week 5-7 with so many losses against AFC Playoff contenders could end any hope they have of playing meaningful games in January.