After two straight losses, the Silver and Black stunned the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs on Sunday. What to make of the Raiders?
A year ago in Jon Gruden’s second season at the helm of the then-Oakland Raiders, the team won six of its first 10 games and found itself tied atop the AFC West with the Kansas City Chiefs. But the bottom would fall out pretty quickly as the team dropped five of its final six contests while the club’s offense failed to answer the bell down the stretch.
Fast forward to 2020 and of course, it’s been a different kind of league and world. The Las Vegas Raiders opened the season with interconference victories over the Panthers (34-30) and Saints (34-24), then followed that up with losses to the Patriots (36-20) and Bills (30-23). Four games into the year and the season had already turned into yet another rollercoaster ride.
And then Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium happened. And it was totally unexpected. The Raiders had dropped their previous five games to the rival Chiefs and by a combined score of 169-70. The team had also dropped seven straight outings at Kansas City and in each of those games, the Silver and Black had been limited to 17 points or less. So when Derek Carr and company tagged the reigning Super Bowl champions on Sunday for 40 points and 490 total yards in an eight-point victory, it was somewhat of a surprise. But maybe not.
More significantly, what’s next for this team? Well, the club has some time off and next up is a home prime time tilt with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And the Raiders are now not only just one game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West and with a divisional road win under the belt.
Carr continues to thrive under Gruden when it comes to accuracy. For the third straight year, his completion percentage has improved. In five games, he’s hit on 73.1 percent of his throws for 1,442 yards and 11 scores with only one interception. The concern is the fact that the seven-year pro has lost four of his five fumbles and has five of the team’s seven turnovers. And while the Las Vegas’ offense has already reached the end zone 17 times, the Raiders’ defensive unit has allowed exactly the same amount of touchdowns. All told, Gruden’s team has scored 151 points and allowed 152. Go figure.
The franchise hasn’t won a division title since 2002, the year the Raiders went to Super Bowl XXXVII. And arguably the most vital stretch of the season is coming up in a few weeks when the team travels to Los Angeles Chargers, followed by home games with the Broncos and Chiefs. Perhaps the league will get a better idea if this team is a legitimate threat in the AFC West.
Then again, perhaps not.