If Raiders fans haven’t done it already, they might want to circle this date on the calendar: Thursday, Nov. 10.
A week ago, Raiders head coach Hue Jackson, coming off a loss to the Patriots, refused to back down from previous statements that this is a new Raiders team with a fresh attitude that will improve on its 8-8 record of 2010.
“We’re going to win the AFC West,” he told reporters. “We’re going to do everything we can do get in the playoffs and go challenge for a Super Bowl. I am not backing down from that.”
At 3-2, the Raiders trail the Chargers (4-1) in the AFC West standings.
But a look at the two teams’ schedules might indicate the Raiders are about to make up some ground as they work their way toward that Nov. 10 game in San Diego.
As Clark Judge of CBS Sports.com noted, the Raiders’ next three games are all at home against three struggling teams: the Browns, Chiefs and Broncos. Plus, the Raiders are emerging from a tough stretch – that included the Bills, Jets, Patriots and Texans – with a winning record.
The Chargers, meanwhile, have compiled their record over the softest portion of their schedule, with wins over the Vikings, Chiefs, Dolphins and Broncos, and now enter a five-week stretch that includes games against the Jets, Packers, Raiders and Bears. And in San Diego, the complaint against the Chargers has been that while they’re 4-1, they haven't been dominant.
So, after watching the Raiders pull out the victory in Houston Sunday – just a day after the death of owner Al Davis – Judge noted this Raiders team could have something special going.
It could be 6-2 at the halfway point of the season, going into the Chargers game, and Oakland has now won eight straight against AFC West teams.
Wrote Judge: “This is not just an emotional team playing for its owner. This is an improved team playing for a division it believes it can win.”