The Oakland Raiders did more than beat the Denver Broncos Sunday night, they established themselves. Not just in the AFC West, or the AFC, but the NFL. The Raiders were picked to make the playoffs (at least by me), but at 7-2 they have shown they have what it takes to be listed as one of the top teams in the league.
The scary part is, they are young.
The Raiders dominated the Broncos and in the process made the defending champs look average at best. Derek Carr did not have his typical evening stat wise but the victory over a rival and one of the best defenses showed more than any stat line could. Carr displayed growth in his 20/30, 184 yards outing. There were no touchdowns, but no interceptions either. If you can throw the ball 30 times against the Broncos secondary and walk away with no turnovers, and a victory, pat yourself on the back.
The Broncos have been the leaders of the division for the past few years but the Raiders knew coming into the season that any type of success must go through the Broncos. But, to do it in such commanding fashion has left many shaking their heads. “Are the Raiders that good, or are the Broncos that average”?
How important was that win for the Raiders?
Next week is their bye, and after that they will face the Houston Texans, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills and then the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Indianapolis Colts. If the Raiders play the way they did Sunday night, there is not a team in their upcoming 7-game stretch that should give them a loss. That means by the time they reach their rematch with the Broncos in the last week of the season, that game may have no bearing on what happens for a playoff berth.
The Raiders may not have been the team you picked to make the playoffs, win the West or represent the AFC in the Super Bowl but come February you may be in for the shock of your life.
“Just win baby”.