It was not easy, but the Las Vegas Raiders improved to 5-3 on the season with a great win.
An incomplete pass from Justin Herbert to Donald Parham Jr. was needed for the Silver and Black to escape SoFi Stadium with a road win in division, but that is exactly what happened for the Raiders. Though the Chargers remain the most snakebitten franchise in the AFC, a win is a win for the Raiders, who are now becoming a force to be reckoned with in their NFL conference.
The Raiders have what it takes to be an AFC Wild Card team in 2020
Simply put, poorly coached teams do not win games like this on the road vs. a division rival. There was no margin for error for the Raiders to hold off the Chargers on that final drive. It came down to the final play, but it was the right call. Cornerback Isaiah Johnson‘s pass breakup was all that was needed to get the Silver and Black to 5-3. This team is good, but how good are the Raiders?
The Silver and Black improve to 2-0 in AFC West play with wins over the arch rival Kansas City Chiefs and now the Chargers. Both of those thrilling wins came on the road. Las Vegas’ three other wins this season are over the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints and the Cleveland Browns. While Carolina has since faded, the wins over New Orleans and Cleveland remain quality.
The Raiders have four more games in division, three of which are at home and two are against the struggling Denver Broncos. There is a great chance the Raiders get to 5-1 in divisional play. While going 6-0 in the AFC West is certainly possible, expect them to get the Chiefs’ best game in a few weeks. What is even crazier is every game left on the schedule for the Raiders is winnable.
Outside of the AFC West, they have road games at the Atlanta Falcons and the New York Jets, as well as home dates vs. the Indianapolis Colts and the Miami Dolphins. Though the only guaranteed victory of that quartet is over the Jets in East Rutherford, the Raiders could easily go 5-3, maybe even 6-2 in the second half of their season. It means this is a playoff team at either 10-6 or 11-5.
The issue for the Raiders is the Chiefs may not lose two more times this year. Though they have the head-to-head tiebreaker, as sweep of Kansas City does not guarantee the Raiders’ first division title since 2002. The Chiefs need to lose at least one more game to another team for that to happen. It could, but do not count on it. What you can count on is Las Vegas in the playoffs.
Without question, the Raiders are now one of the seven best teams in the AFC through Week 9.