With 75% of the regular season over, the Oakland Raiders are 6-6 and somehow tied for first place in the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers.
The Chargers started the season going 0-4 while the Kansas City Chiefs started 5-0. Their season since then has completely flipped while the Raiders have taken Raider Nation for a roller coaster ride, to say the least.
Then there’s the Denver Broncos, a team who started 3-1 and have lost every game since, effectively making it a lost season for them.
With the three first-place teams having four games left and entering the December stretch, lets breakdown their remaining schedules and try to predict where they will end up at by seasons end.
The Chiefs earlier in the year were once thought of as the clear favorites in the AFC. Since their 5-0 start, their offense has been slowed down as teams figured out how to contain rookie Kareem Hunt and the run game.
- Week 14 vs Oakland – Oakland’s resurgent defense can keep the Chiefs under 21 points and score enough against their bottom five defense. Prediction: Loss
- Week 15 vs Los Angeles – The Chiefs cannot score at will against the Chargers 6th ranked pass defense and the Chiefs 30th ranked defense cannot contain Rivers. Prediction: Loss
- Week 16 vs Miami – Chiefs finally get a win at home as Miami has looked lost and out of sorts all season, albeit they dismantled the Broncos in week 13. Prediction: Win
- Week 17 at Denver – One of the few teams with a worse losing streak in the league other than KC is Denver. The Broncos still have a good defense, however, their offense can’t score against anyone in the league that’s competitive. Prediction: Win
Predicted Final Record: 8-8
The Chargers are the team on the opposite spectrum to the Chiefs. After losing their first four games, the Chargers have only lost twice in the last eight weeks. They are finally learning how to win close games (well, some of them).
- Week 14 vs Washington – A game which can go either way. But with the home field advantage and a better defense, the advantage goes to the Chargers Prediction: Win
- Week 15 at KC – Rivers picks apart KC’s defense and their cornerbacks shut down Hill. Prediction: Win
- Week 16 at New York – A Jets team who can easily have a winning record if not for 4th quarter collapses, just like the Chargers, takes a close one. 10 am PST games are never easy. Prediction: Loss
- Week 17 vs Oakland – Oakland’s resurgent defense under former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano makes life for Rivers uncomfortable while the Raiders offensive line slows down the Chargers pass rush. Prediction: Loss
Predicted Final Record: 8-8
As for the Raiders, after two wins to open the season, they fell off the cliff and lost four straight before pulling themselves back up. Now sitting at 6-6, their playoff hopes are once again in their own hands.
- Week 14 at KC – Oakland’s resurgent defense can keep the Chiefs under 21 points and score enough against their bottom five defense. Prediction: Win
- Week 15 vs Dallas – Dallas is very beatable when they are one-dimensional, and without star running back Ezekiel Elliott, they become one-dimensional. Prediction: Win
- Week 16 at Philly – Eagles are like the Chiefs in how creative their offense is, but the Eagles defense is much better. Raiders find it too difficult on the road to stay with an all-around team like the Eagles. Prediction: Loss
- Week 17 at LAC – Oakland’s resurgent defense under former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano makes life for Rivers uncomfortable while the Raiders Offensive Line slows down the Chargers pass rush. Prediction: Win
Predicted Final Record: 9-7
Raiders win the AFC West with a 9-7 record and squeeze into the playoffs. If the trend continues, the Silver and Black will be preparing to host either the Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans, or Jacksonville Jaguars on wild-card card weekend.