NFL: Oakland Raiders Will Win the AFC West Division Title

Coming off back-to-back losses—two very winnable games against the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos at home—the Oakland Raiders hobbled into San Diego on a short week to face another divisional rival.

With the momentum of their season also heading south, the Raiders had—no, needed—to beat the Chargers on the road to shift the pendulum back in their favor. A third straight loss would undoubtedly have put pressure on the team to keep the Raiders ship from sinking, and placed first-year head coach Hue Jackson into the spotlight. After all, Jackson has been the unquestioned captain of this band of pirates, making bold and garish personnel moves in an effort to steer his team back on course.

After a Week 6 win in which the Raiders lost their starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, Jackson decided to plug the hole with the semi-retired former Pro Bowler Carson Palmer, who had mandated that he should be traded by the Cincinnati Bengals or he would not play for them. Jackson’s own decision to bring in Palmer, who had not played football in nine months and missed any and all minicamp opportunities, was seen as desperation for an Oakland team who was in the midst of a division title race, just half a game out of first.

Unfortunately, with Palmer still dusting off the rust, along with the insertion of veteran wideout T.J. Houshmandzadeh into the receiving corps, the Raiders were veering in the wrong direction, losing their next two games to even their record at 4-4. There were grumblings that the Raiders were drifting out to sea, and that Jackson might be unable to get his crew back on track.

But this past Thursday proved that not only can Jackson will his team to victory but also that the Raiders are the front-runners in the AFC West. The same group that has lost their starting quarterback. The same group that lost their starting running back, Darren McFadden. The same group that leads the league...

About the Author