Flukes No More: Is Power Shifting in the AFC West?

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst INovember 23, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  Sebastian Janikowski #11 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after he kicked the winning field goal with less than a minute to play against the Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 22, 2009 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images


Winning games is no small feat, especially for a Raiders team that has seen them few and far between in recent years.

Is this most recent stunner a sign of things to come for Oakland, or is it just another fluke win for a team that will never see the top of the mountain?

That’s what head coach Tom Cable calls it: "seeing the top of the mountain" or "taking baby steps towards climbing the mountain."

His philosophy is that each game is a baby step. He believes that the Raiders have to win three straight games to get past their inconsistency and start winning on a long-term basis with confidence.

You have to wonder, still, why the Raiders can beat a team like the Bengals or the Eagles, two potential playoff teams, but can’t beat the teams they should be able to.

Granted, the Kansas City Chiefs obtained a hard fought victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, so maybe it’s a sign of change for the entire division.

Besides, there is definitely a change in Denver —a change for the worse. Forgive me, but the Broncos did this last year, too, didn’t they? I’m just glad Oakland gets to play them again, while they are sucking eggs. Again.

So, is the offseason turmoil starting to catch up with the Broncos? Unlikely. They seem to be over it, but now everyone is getting to see how much of a cancer Ty Law is for a team. Not that he has done anything individually to make them lose, but just having his presence on a team seems to be a hex lately. Look what happened to the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs when he was there.

It’s more than just the Law for the Broncos though. The fact is their true colors are shining through, sad colors but true, Donkey fans.

The Oakland Raiders are like a gem that has to be polished to uncover its beauty. The Broncos are like a cubic zirconia. They shine like a diamond for a while, but then you find out that they really aren’t worth that much.

The Chargers are the crème de la crème in the division. They are hitting their stride right on time. They better keep it up, though, because the Raiders and Chiefs are young and learning how to fight for the full 60 minutes.

The Chargers, on the other hand, are getting up there. They are not the same youthful team they were three years ago. Countless stars on this team are aging. LaDainian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, Jammal Williams, and Quentin Jammer will soon be losing their starting jobs.

They are declining despite the rising performance of quarterback Phillip Rivers.

The Raiders are arguably the best looking roster in the division right now, as far as new faces go. I won’t try to say they will take advantage of it. But wins over Philly and Cincy look good on the résumé this year.

I still think someone should pinch me; I didn’t see this coming. I figured Cincinnati would cover the 14-point spread and then some. After a loss to the Chiefs last week, I thought the final score would be something like 45-14.

I don’t know if what Carson Palmer said about his team had anything to do with the way they played on Sunday. But, I don’t really care.

I don’t think that the losses of Cincinnati or Pittsburgh were flukes either. Kansas City has been in some tough ball games this year, fighting, scrapping, and staying competitive against some playoff-caliber teams.

I think the Raiders and the Chiefs could make some noise for the rest of this season. Suddenly, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Dallas, and Denver don’t look so intimidating at the end of Oakland’s schedule anymore.

Is it a sign of things to come? Let me hear what you think, Raider Nation.


See what Hitler thinks of the Bengals' loss.