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Mike Meredith / CBS Sports

A month ago, the Las Vegas Raiders looked lost. They had just given up 45 points in a home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which meant four consecutive games giving up 30 or more points. 

The defense was simply awful, and some fans were calling for changes. 

In the three games since, the defense has made strides — although it still isn't good — and the offense is scoring points, which is why they have won three consecutive games to get into playoff contention.

The Raiders have defeated the Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Chargers and Denver Broncos to get to 6-3 on the year with a huge game this week against the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs

The Raiders beat the Chiefs on Oct. 11 at Arrowhead, so this is a chance to sweep the season series and make the division race an interesting one as we head to Thanksgiving. It will also make believers out of skeptics relating to Jon Gruden's team. 

Las Vegas is up to No. 7 in my Power Rankings this week and Gruden deserves a lot of credit for turning things around. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, who was getting lit up after the Tampa Bay loss, has also done a nice job of steadying things. 

Slowing Patrick Mahomes and his offense will be a huge challenge this week. In the first game, the Raiders won 40-32 as Derek Carr had a better day than Mahomes. Carr has had a good season, but didn't throw a touchdown against Denver Sunday because it was a day for the defense as the Raiders also ran for over 200 yards.

To be honest, it's hard to get a real feel for just how good the Raiders are right now. They were an overturned call away from losing to the Chargers two weeks ago and weather was a major factor in their win over the Browns. 

They still can hang their hats on beating the Chiefs on the road. If they win another one against Mahomes this week, they will be even higher in these rankings. But much more important than that, they will have to be considered a legitimate contender. 

Biggest Movers
6 Giants
6 Titans
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Steelers They just keep on winning. The good thing is the passing game came alive against the Bengals. They have earned this top spot. -- 1-1-0
2 Chiefs They come off their bye with a big division game against the Raiders. The best is yet to come from this team. -- 1-1-0
3 Saints The Drew Brees injury situation bears watching for the long term. He will be out for a bit, but they can get by with Jameis Winston in the short term. 1 1-1-0
4 Packers They beat the Jaguars with a lackluster showing. They better not play that way against the Colts this week. 2 1-1-0
5 Buccaneers They bounced back in a big way against the Panthers. Tom Brady got back to looking like Tom Brady. 2 2-0-0
6 Ravens If they don't get the passing game cranked up, they will have issues come playoff time. They can't just be a running team. The defense has to pick it up as well. 3 1-1-0
7 Raiders They have won three straight games and appear to be on their way to the playoffs. The Chiefs will be a barometer to show just how good they are this week. 3 2-0-0
8 Bills That was a tough way to lose at Arizona. They are now in a battle for the division with Miami. 3 1-1-0
9 Dolphins This is a legitimate playoff team. They continue to improve and the defense is getting nasty. Brian Flores has this team playing hard. 2 1-1-0
10 Rams They are now tied for the division lead with Seattle, who they beat Sunday. The Rams now face a tough road trip to Tampa to play the Bucs on Monday night. 5 2-0-0
11 Seahawks They have lost two straight games and have looked ordinary in doing so. Even when the defense wasn't as bad, they couldn't win a game against the Rams. It's not good now with Arizona on tap Thursday. 3 1-1-0
12 Colts They impressed in beating the Titans at Tennessee. Philip Rivers got back on track in that game, which they needed. But this week he will have to be better with the Packers coming to town. -- 0-2-0
13 Cardinals Winning on a Hail Mary to beat the Bills keeps them in the division race. They have a big one at Seattle Thursday. -- 2-0-0
14 Browns They can run it and run it and run it. That makes them weatherproof. But can they pass it well enough? -- 1-1-0
15 Titans The defense continues to be a major problem. It puts so much pressure on the offense to score. 6 1-1-0
16 Vikings With three straight victories and a soft three-game stretch coming up, they have turned their season around. They have real playoff chances now. 3 0-2-0
17 Patriots Just when you think it's time to bury them, they rise up and upset a good Ravens team. That was a masterful coaching job by Bill Belichick. Would you expect anything less? -- 1-1-0
18 Falcons If they can somehow find a way to beat division-rival New Orleans this week, they will be in the playoff chase. That's hard to believe. -- 0-2-0
19 Bears The offense is so limited - no matter who calls the plays. They can't move the ball. Nick Foles isn't the answer and now he's hurt. 3 1-1-0
20 Lions They are now 4-5 and still in the playoff race. Matt Patricia always seems to win a game just when it looks like his time is up. 2 0-2-0
21 Panthers Teddy Bridgewater is banged up with a knee injury, so his status is up in the air. They've lost five straight games, but they've been better than that. 1 2-0-0
22 Broncos Drew Lock looked ordinary at best against the Raiders, which is not a good thing for the long run. He has to quit turning it over. 2 2-0-0
23 Giants When Daniel Jones doesn't turn it over, they have a real chance to win games. The defense is getting better by the week. 6 0-2-0
24 Eagles Just when they get guys back, seemingly ready to make a push, they play awful in losing to the Giants. How can you figure this team out? I can't. 3 1-1-0
25 Texans They have two victories, both over Jacksonville. That's the definition of a bad season. They are done. 2 1-1-0
26 Chargers The good news against Miami: It wasn't a heartbreaking loss. The bad news: It was another loss, which means their playoff hopes are basically shot. 1 1-1-0
27 Bengals They just aren't good enough now to compete with the Steelers or the Ravens. That will come next year. 1 1-1-0
28 49ers They competed against the Saints, but they just don't have the talent right now. This season is done. 1 2-0-0
29 Cowboys They come off the bye still in the division race. But can they get it going? They play a tough road game against a resurgent Vikings team this week. 1 1-1-0
30 Football Team Alex Smith made some nice plays in his first start last week. The defense let them down against the Lions. -- 1-1-0
31 Jaguars They played decent football at Green Bay, but didn't win. That's a good thing for draft position and it means some young players are getting better. -- 0-2-0
32 Jets They didn't lose this past weekend. That's a first this season. Of course they had a bye. Will they win a game? Not likely. Trevor Lawrence is coming next year. -- 0-2-0