A look back at their completed schedule, however, paints an interesting picture.
Two weeks ago, the Raiders were coming off their second consecutive loss, a heartbreaker to the Falcons, and were sitting at 1-4 on the season. To analysts around the league, the perception was simple: Oakland is back to being Oakland.
Fourteen days later, however, and the Raiders are now 3-4 and just one game behind the Broncos for the AFC West divisional lead. Even more clarifying than that, however, is what has transpired involving the teams that Oakland has already played.
In Week 1, the Raiders lost an eight-point heartbreaker against the Chargers thanks in part to a special teams meltdown like the league had never seen before. Minus a long snapper, the Raiders came up short.
In Week 2, desperately needing a win, the Raiders traveled across the country for a showdown with the lowly Dolphins. With an early East Coast start and heat like they weren't used to, the Raiders were embarrassed by the Dolphins, 35-13.
Five weeks later, however, the Dolphins might not be as lowly as we thought.
In fact, aside from a 20-point loss to Houston in Week 1, the Dolphins have lost just two games all season—and both were in overtime!
In Week 3, the Raiders finally got one in the win column with a big win over the Steelers thanks to a game-winning field goal from Sebastian Janikowski. The Steelers are currently 4-3 on the season.
Hoping to keep their momentum going, the Raiders traveled to Denver in Week 4 for their second shellacking of the season in a 37-6 beating that many believed would end their season.
Like Miami, however, some more perspective on that game shows that maybe that loss wasn't as bad as we thought. Despite playing teams with a combined 27-16 record, the Broncos are 4-3 on the season, as Peyton Manning has the Broncos looking like one of the AFC's best teams.
In Week 5, Oakland paid a visit to Atlanta and the undefeated Falcons, a game many assumed wouldn't be close. In a bit of a surprise, however, the Raiders battled with—and might have even outplayed—the Falcons before losing on a game-winning field goal from beyond 50 yards.
Since then, the Raiders rattled off wins against the Jaguars and Chiefs—two teams they needed to beat—to improve to 3-4 on the season.
That leaves them just one game out of the playoffs at the moment.
So with nine games left on the docket, contrary to what many experts believed, the Raiders are still right in the thick of things. If the running game can continue to improve while the defense grasps Dennis Allen's game plan better and better, who knows where this team could be come the end of the season.
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