Before the season started, it seemed like the Oakland Raiders would be in contention for the No. 1 pick in 2020. But after 10 weeks, they are a legitimate playoff contender.
The Oakland Raiders don’t have an offense loaded with talent. Beyond wide receiver Tyrell Williams and running back Josh Jacobs, Derek Carr doesn’t have a laundry list of game-changing talents. However, Jon Gruden and the Raiders have done just enough to scrape by their opponents in 2019, and another last-gasp win has the team in a playoff position at 5-4.
When Antonio Brown forced his way out of Oakland in a saga for the ages this summer, everyone wrote the Raiders off. They looked like a laughingstock, and the offense was supposed to be the biggest joke of them all.
But after beating the rival Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football one week after beating the Detroit Lions on the last play of the game, it’s time to take these Raiders seriously. They have a winning record at 5-4. Most importantly, they have moxie.
Maybe attitude and grit to pull out tough victories comes from the unorthodox Gruden. Or maybe it comes from an overall ethos within the team that has emerged after the chip on their shoulder grew when Brown spurned them for the New England Patriots.
Whatever it is, the Raiders have made all the chatter about Brown, the Khalil Mack trade, the so-called draft reaches, Gruden’s X’s and O’s, and Derek Carr’s leadership a thing of the past.
In the present, the Raiders have officially displaced the Chargers as the second-best team in the AFC West behind the Kansas City Chiefs. And if the Indianapolis Colts somehow stumble this week against the Miami Dolphins, they will be in a tie for the final AFC Wild Card spot behind the No. 5 seed Buffalo Bills.
Talk about a season nobody saw coming.
The Raiders were supposed to be this year’s Cincinnati Bengals. A basement-dwelling team with an inept offense, “lame duck” quarterback and lost coaching staff. However, the Raiders are a gutsy, well-oiled machine with an offense that ranks sixth in the league in net yards per pass attempt and a rookie running back who already has 740 yards and six touchdowns through 10 weeks.
While the Raiders have questions to answer with a defense that allowed the third-most net yards per pass attempt before shutting down Philip Rivers in Week 10, they continue to pile up the wins and have done enough to earn a spot in the playoff race.