The Oakland Raiders looked early on like they could be in a tight race for the not so desirable title of worst team in the NFL. Now, however, after an overtime win against the Jacksonville Jaguars and inconsistent play by the two favorites to win the division, the San Diego Chargers and the Denver Broncos, the Raiders have found themselves one game behind the division lead with 10 games left to play in the season. While the Raiders have not played particularly well so far in 2012, that really does not matter. What matters now is how they play the remainder of the season, because believe it or not, the Raiders are actually playoff contenders six games into the 2012 season.
Clearly, the Raiders cannot continue to play the way that they have so far in 2012, but the fact that they were able to come from a 14 point deficit in a game that seemed destined for a loss, actually means a lot. One of the primary reasons the Raiders missed the playoffs in 2011 was due to their tendency to crumble late in games. While a win against one of the league's worst teams is never something worth getting overly excited about, the fact that the Raiders were able to finish the game strong is a good sign for this team. But if they plan on making a real push for the AFC West title, the Raiders must win their next two games.
This weekend, the Raiders take on another one of the league's worst teams in the Kansas City Chiefs. Through six games, the Chiefs have only held a lead once, and that was when they beat the New Orleans Saints, and in that game, the lead did not come until the last play of the game. But with that being said, this game will not be a walk in the park for the Raiders. The Chiefs have the third best rushing attack in the NFL this season and boast one of the biggest home field advantages in the NFL at Arrowhead Stadium. That being said, they are still a team the Raiders must beat if they want to make the idea of the playoffs a reality.
The fact of the matter is, the Raiders do not see themselves as a bottom dwelling team in the NFL. But regardless of how they see themselves, the rest of the league considers them one of the worst teams in 2012. The first step towards dispelling that notion is to beat teams that are clearly bottom dwellers. Before the Raiders can seriously start talking playoffs, they need to show they can win the games that they are supposed to win, and they are supposed to beat the Kansas City Chiefs. If the Raiders can dispatch of the Chiefs without letting them make a close game of it, Oakland will be one step closer to defying belief and making a run towards the playoffs in 2012.