|Can Oakland can win AFC West? Why not. (US PRESSWIRE)|
“We’re going to win the AFC West. We’re going to do everything we can to get in the playoffs and go challenge for a Super Bowl. I am not backing down from that.”
That was Raiders head coach Hue Jackson at his Monday press conference. Our first thought after reading those remarks: "Hey, why not? This is the AFC West we're talking about. And through the first month of the season, the Raiders have every right to think they can win the division."
Also worth noting: Oakland went 6-0 in the AFC West last season but because of their 8-8 overall record finished behind the Chiefs and Chargers. (Seriously, this could only happen to the Raiders.)
And even without Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller -- two key players who went elsewhere in free agency -- Oakland has been one of the surprises a quarter of the way through the season. It starts with running back Darren McFadden, but Jason Campbell has done a good job of managing the offense, and the defense (save the second-half implosion against the Bills in Week 2) has been solid.
Either way, Jackson sounds like a man legitimately confident in his team.
"I expected to be 4-0," he said Monday. "I really did. I'm not going to back off of that, and we're not. We're 2-2, so I'm disappointed but not discouraged because I know what's in the locker room. I've said this before: I have to keep coaching and keep pushing and keep grinding on these players. And these players have to keep responding, and they've responded every time I've asked them to. Maybe not as fast as I want them to, maybe not as fast as everybody wants them to, but I know the message is there, and it's clear."
Helping Oakland's cause: the Broncos are one of the league's truly awful teams, the Chiefs are somehow worse, and the Chargers hardly look like a playoff outfit, despite their 3-1 start.
The Raiders will face an Andre Johnson-less Texans team this week, the Browns the week after, and then following their Week 8 bye, will play three consecutive division games against the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers.
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