The Oakland Raiders currently sit on a nice 2-1 record in the AFC West, their best start after three games since the 2011 season.
They finally look like they have all the pieces required to have a good offense and defense, and they look set to challenge for a wildcard spot, or possibly even the AFC West Divisional title. They definitely look good enough to fight for a playoff spot in the AFC.
Over the past three years, they've gathered together good players in the positions they needed including running back Latavius Murray, wide receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, defensive end Khalil Mack, free safety Charles Woodson, and quarterback Derek Carr.
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They've got off to a strong start this season under new Head Coach Jack Del Rio, losing first off to a strong Cincinnati Bengals, but picking up wins against the Baltimore Ravens, and most recently, the Cleveland Browns.
During this stretch of three games, the main trio on the Raider Nation offense has been playing well. Carr has completed 57 of his 90 pass attempts for 726 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. Murray has rushed for 248 yards and two touchdowns from 52 attempts. And Cooper has 20 catches for 290 yards and one touchdown.
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They should be able to pick up a win against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field this Sunday, but their first true tests of the season will come against divisional rivals the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers on either side of their week six bye.
If they're able to pick up good results in both of these games (a close loss to the Broncos and a win against the Chargers), they could be in with a shot of earning a wildcard spot in the AFC.
There are only two or three non-divisional winning teams in the AFC that are looking stronger than the Raiders. No one in the AFC South can find a rhythm, the Bengals are dominating the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers are without Ben Roethlisberger for probably six weeks, and the Chargers and Chiefs are struggling to defend.
The only real threat for a wildcard spot is coming from the AFC East. The Patriots are guaranteed the title, and any one of the rest of the teams in that division could earn a wildcard spot.
However, they're all also struggling on one side of the football or the other. This opens up a spot for the Raiders to reach for the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
2002, of course, was the year they went all the way to the Super Bowl, only to lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Could they reach the biggest game of the year once again if they make the playoffs this season?