The Oakland Coliseum was visited this week by the New York Jets, who had hopes, although not high, of perhaps picking up a win. Not only did they fail to do so, but any doubts that the Oakland Raiders could contain the Jets were quickly dispelled.
The game went about as expected. The Raiders scored first and continued scoring over the Jets at a ratio of about a 2 to 1. When all was said and done, the Raiders finished with the win and started their season 2-0 for the first time since 2002, their last trip to the Super Bowl. Foreshadowing? Maybe. Let’s just take it week by week for now.
What does this mean for the team and how they stack up against the rest of the division?
Oakland is currently sitting in first place in the AFC West. The tricky part about their position is that they’re in a three-way tie for first place. The West is quickly solidifying itself as the best division in football, as has been expected since the close of last season. With 2-0 records for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, the Raiders, widely predicted as a Super Bowl contender, won’t have an easy road. The Chiefs rocketed out of the gates with a convincing win over the defending world champion New England Patriots.
Their second game was not as definitive. Although they beat the Eagles, they did so by only one score and had it not been for a failure to come down with the ball from the sea of hands, they may have lost that game. Kansas City’s defense saved their bacon that day. But give the Eagles some credit for their play. This is a team that is certainly up and coming and will be a contender soon. The game did solidify that the Chiefs are doing everything they can to prove that they want to be a competitor.
The Broncos seem to be getting better by the week. Week one saw Denver defeat the only AFC West team to not yet win a game, the LA Chargers. While the win was a nail-biter, it was still a win. Week 2 was much more definitive when Denver trounced Dallas 42-17. Trevor Siemian is doing everything he can to make his way out of the “good enough” category, and so far, it’s working.
So the question remains: how will the Raiders fare against two rivals who are holding their own?
All indicators are good for the Raiders, but given the way these two teams have trampled over each of their first two opponents, Oakland needs to stick to their game plan and continue working their defense so they’re ready for success. The offense will face two of the best defenses in the league in Kansas City and Denver, and the Chargers are no slouches on the defensive side of the ball either. But the offense is not the problem.
If John Pagano’s presence on the sidelines is helping Ken Norton Jr. reign the team in and find some discipline that they’ve been sorely lacking, the team is headed in a very positive direction. There’s no reason that a Derek Carr-led offense and a defense headed by stars like Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, and Karl Joseph can’t expect to come out on top of these contests. After the very promising flashes that we saw from Gareon Conley in the secondary, signs are pointing in the right direction. The Raiders still may have this in the bag.
If an offense as good as Oakland’s can trudge their way through defenses the likes of Kansas City, Denver, and yes, even LA, then there aren’t many other big tests in the league. They’ll wait, they’ll study, they’ll practice until they get it right. When all is said and done, the Raiders still have a very real chance of taking the division, and possibly more.