The Oakland Raiders could easily be 3-0 at this point. They lost a close game to the Bills in Buffalo, who are turning out to be rather impressive by the way. They handled a physical Jets team the way the Jets normally handle their opponents. They can run the ball and play defense (when not facing the Bills), two traits that mark most playoff teams. That's a good sign for things in Oakland.
Darren McFadden is the real deal, making good on his high draft position by rushing for 171 yards yesterday in yet another display of his incredible speed, agility and vision. The Raiders defense forced 2 turnovers and had 4 sacks against the Jets yesterday and it's a unit that's still getting used to the loss of Nnamdi Asomugha with young players all around. Given enough time, they should gel even more.
The other thing going for the Raiders this year is that the division is rather weak. The Chargers slept their way to a win versus Kansas City yesterday when they should have been up by 30 at the half. The Broncos are getting better, but they're certainly not ready to win. The Chiefs? Let's not bother. Simply put, the division is up for grabs -- just like last year -- and the Raiders might be in the prime position to take it.
Matt Bowen of the National Football Post agrees the Raiders are a team to watch. He writes, "I like what I am seeing from the Raiders with Hue Jackson as head coach. They are a very physical football team up front, can run the ball consistently (Darren McFadden: 19-171-2 TDs) and they hit on defense. Plus, when Jason Campbell can protect the ball in the pocket and limit turnovers, this Raiders’ team can control the tempo of the game. This is the style of football I love to watch. Pushed around the Jets a little bit in a 34-24 win."
It's possible that the Raiders will represent the AFC West in the playoffs with the way they are playing lately, especially in their response to the Jets after losing the heartbreaker to Buffalo. The Jets learned the hard way that the Raiders will be tough to contend with.