Who saw the Oakland Raiders as a potential division winner in the AFC West?
I know I sure didn't.
After the Antonio Brown fiasco, coupled with the youth of the roster, I didn't think the Raiders would have a chance to make the playoffs. Yet, as we head to the final six weeks of the season, the Raiders have a legitimate shot to win the division.
Jon Gruden, Coach of the Year? It's probably not going to happen, but Gruden has done an outstanding job with this team. Give general manager Mike Mayock credit for building a young roster that is loaded with potential.
The reason I didn't think the Raiders would push for a playoff spot was mainly because of that youth – especially on defense. But Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther – can he get some head coach sniffs this year? – both have done a good job of molding the team as the defense gets better.
The Chiefs beat the Chargers in Mexico City and Will Brinson, John Breech, Ryan Wilson and Sean Wagner-McGough are here to break it down, size up the biggest overachievers/underachievers and much more on the Pick Six Podcast. Listen below and be sure to subscribe here for daily NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
The Raiders have a favorable schedule down the stretch, including this week's game against the New York Jets on the road – but be careful in that one.
Oakland is up to the ninth spot in my Power Rankings this week, which is a far cry from where they started.
Oakland in the playoffs isn't that far-fetched now, and Gruden is a big reason why.
|They have clearly established themselves as a Super Bowl contender. Lamar Jackson is the main story, but that defense is improving by the week.||--||8-9-0|
|They have to get the offense going, but they will. I think Bill Belichick is using the regular season to get the offense right - much like he used to do for the defense.||--||10-7-0|
|The defense had some issues against the Cardinals, which is concerning. It has to be better as the schedule gets tougher, starting this week against the Packers.||--||10-7-0|
|They come off their bye with a tough one against the 49ers on the road. I can't wait to see Aaron Rodgers against that defense.||--||13-4-0|
|They got the offense back on track against Tampa Bay. What happened against the Falcons? I still can't figure that out.||--||9-8-0|
|That was an impressive second half against Denver. But they can't do that against good teams. The defense has to tighten up some.||--||8-9-0|
|They come off the bye with a tough road game at Philadelphia. The defense has to be better going forward.||--||7-10-0|
|They rebounded nicely against Miami. Josh Allen had one of his best games. As he improves, so will this team.||1||11-6-0|
|They have made strides on defense and the offense can score points. Can they win the division?||1||10-7-0|
|Dak Prescott had another big day throwing it against the Lions, but the defense had some issues. They face a tough game at New England this week.||3||12-5-0|
|They pounded the football against the Jaguars for a big day, but will be without Marlon Mack because of a broken hand. That's not a good thing heading into the key division game with the Texans.||5||9-8-0|
|The offense was totally shut down by the Ravens and now they have a big division game with the Colts on Thursday. The offensive line has to be better.||4||4-13-0|
|They did some good things against the Bears - especially on defense. The running game came alive as well. But now they face a tough one against Baltimore.||2||12-5-0|
|They are so banged up and now their season is on the line this week against Seattle. It's a tough way to try and save it.||3||9-8-0|
|It wasn't pretty in Mexico City against the Chargers, but they found a way. The defense came up big, but it wasn't the usual explosive offense.||3||12-5-0|
|All the momentum they seemed to have disappeared with that loss to the Browns. They aren't good enough at quarterback right now.||2||9-7-1|
|They are pretty much done now in the division race and the playoffs look like they are fading. So much for the idea they don't need Cam Newton.||--||5-12-0|
|They come off their bye with a chance to really get in the division race with the Colts and Texans playing each other. Can Ryan Tannehill keep it up?||2||12-5-0|
|They are basically done with the loss to the Chiefs. Now comes the major question: Is this it for Philip Rivers?||1||9-8-0|
|Getting Nick Foles back did nothing for the offense and the defense was horrible against the Colts. Their season is on the line against the Titans this week.||1||3-14-0|
|What's going on with Mitch Trubisky? Was he really hurt, leading to his benching? This thing has gone bad in a big way.||--||6-11-0|
|Their defense is bad right now and the offense can't keep up. Jameis Winston still turns it over too much.||--||13-4-0|
|Why would Matt Stafford play again this season? Shut him down. This season is over.||--||3-13-1|
|They are certainly getting better on offense, which is a good thing for the future. Kyler Murray has the look of a future star.||--||11-6-0|
|They've won two straight, and the schedule is softening in a big way. Can they go on a big run even without Myles Garrett?||1||8-9-0|
|So much for that winning streak getting to three games. They looked like a tanking team against the Bills.||1||9-8-0|
|They've won two straight and the defense has come alive after all the changes on the staff. Can they run the table and make the playoffs?||1||7-10-0|
|They've won two straight and it looks like Adam Gase is staying around. It's funny how fast things change in this league.||1||4-13-0|
|They competed against the Vikings, and Brandon Allen did some good things. They just have to build on things for next year.||4||7-10-0|
|The rest of their season is about getting Daniel Jones going for next year. It's too bad some of his weapons are banged up.||--||4-13-0|
|There will be a lot of growing pains with Dwayne Haskins. But that's part of the reason he's playing now.||--||7-10-0|
|They are the worst team in the league and they might not win a game. Do they go back to Andy Dalton at some point?||--||10-7-0|