Raiders, Jon Gruden are making a real run at the AFC West

Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders have improved to 6-4 on the year after beating the Cincinnati Bengals to make a serious run at the AFC West division title.

The Oakland Raiders have been the surprise of the 2019 NFL season. After yet another bad year in 2018, the Silver and Black have gone on a little bit of a hot streak. They have won three games in a row after beating the Cincinnati Bengals at home on Sunday evening. Oakland is now 6-4 on the year and is poised to make a serious run at the AFC West division title the rest of the way.

Of course, the Raiders still have to tango with the archrival Kansas City Chiefs in the division, who currently have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Oakland thanks to a Week 2 in the Coliseum. However, this is a completely different Raiders team than the one Patrick Mahomes carved up back in early September.

Oakland has the feel of a playoff team and may have what it takes to be division champions. The Raiders haven’t won the AFC West since 2002’s run to the Super Bowl. Head coach Jon Gruden had just left Oakland for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team that unfortunately beat the Silver and Black in Super Bowl XXXVII down in San Diego. But with Gruden back, this team is exciting.

The Raiders have a power run game identity with Rookie of the Year front-runner Josh Jacobs and a big offensive line opening up the pass for Derek Carr. Defensively, this team has found a pass rush with rookie defensive end sensation Maxx Crosby who had four sacks in the win over the Bengals.

The Raiders don’t fear anybody. While the Raiders, and Carr especially, have had their issues playing Kansas City in Arrowhead, it could be different this year. Oakland has trended up in recent weeks, while the Chiefs could be half a game back of the Raiders in the division if they lose on Monday night.

Expect Raider Nation to be tuning into Monday Night Football to see two division rivals clash, as the Chiefs will play the Los Angeles Chargers in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Los Angeles has taken this neutral-site affair seriously, training in Colorado to get ready for the 7,000-foot altitude. Kansas City, well, the Chiefs stayed in Missouri this week.

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Should the Chargers upset the Chiefs, Los Angeles will improve to 5-6 and would be 1.5 games back of the first-place Raiders, only a game back of the new second-place team Chiefs. There is still a month and a half of NFL regular-season football left to be played, but the Raiders have no plans of watching the postseason on TV. They’ll be playing in it, possibly one last time at home.