With a 31-28 overtime victory over the Miami Dolphins, the Las Vegas Raiders start the year 3-0 for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
The Raiders are the first team in NFL history to start 3-0 with each of their wins coming against a team that won 10+ games the year before.
They're 3-0 for the first time since 2002, the season they went to the Super Bowl and Rich Gannon won MVP. pic.twitter.com/RK3WyLtE1E
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) September 26, 2021
Raiders have made history…
When the NFL schedule makers finished their appointed tasks, Las Vegas was slated to have the seventh-toughest schedule. They produced a start that featured a three-game opening set against the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Miami Dolphins. All of them won at least ten games with stiflingly opportunistic defenses and an explosive offense. No team in the history of the NFL has ever opened the season against three consecutive playoff teams and defeated them all; until now.
Winning in the opener 33-27, the first East Coast away game 26-17, and Sunday’s 31-28 victory earned the 2021 Raiders a spot in NFL history. Currently, their three-game winning streak is the best start to a season since they went to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Only five teams remain undefeated in the NFL, two are in the AFC, specifically the AFC West, and the Raiders are one of them. By stockpiling early wins against quality opponents, the Raiders are arming themselves with potential tie-breakers against the playoff-worthy competition. Through Week 3, the 90 points that Las Vegas has scored are second-most in the AFC and sixth-highest overall.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are currently the number one seed in the AFC West and the AFC overall. They get the nod over their fellow unbeaten divisional opponent, the Denver Broncos. That is due to a better conference record. The next contest on Monday Night Football against the Los Angeles Chargers is just another game. However, it is the next game for the Raiders towards continuing the winning streak.
Getting a win over the Chargers would tie the best start to a season in team history. Additionally, it provides a positive start to the Raiders’ divisional play. It’s been 19 years since the Raiders last won the AFC West.
Quite frankly, there are a ton of parallels to be drawn between the 2021 and 2002 Raiders. Both started 3-0 and featured a quarterback playing at an MVP-like level (with Rich Gannon winning the award for that year), and both teams believed: Just Win, Baby!
*Top Photo: Don Wright/Associated Press