Our beloved Raiders have given us something to smile about for two straight weeks, first annihilating the hated Denver Broncos 59-14 on October 24th, in Denver no less, and then backing up that performance with a tour de force home victory over former division rival Seattle in front of a small but raucous Halloween crowd.
To anyone who read last week's PHK, let me say this: I'm sure glad the Big Guy upstairs has a good sense of humour! He apparently forgave my ill-advised Black Hole comment and allowed nature to take it's course.
Now, for the first time since 2002, the Raiders play a meaningful game at the halfway point of the season as it pertains to divisional positioning and potential playoff ramifications. This team is 4-4, at .500 halfway through the season for the first time since 2002, and playing better football all around than I can remember.
The Broncos and the Seahawks are both banged up on defense, which can help to partly explain Oakland's offensive explosion; but this Raider team has been in the top 10 of NFL offense all season, so it's not that much of an anomaly.
It's also been the play and intensity of the Raiders' defense that's been as much a catalyst for this success as offensive efficiency.
This week, the hated Kansas City Chiefs, themselves in the midst of a renaissance after recent struggles, roll into Oakland. Kansas City, after narrowly defeating the Buffalo Bills in overtime last week, own a 5-2 record and sit atop the AFC West, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Raiders at this point.
This game is key for the Raiders, as a win would pull them within 1/2 game heading into their bye week, with a chance to get healthy to tackle a somewhat daunting second half schedule.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, have a relatively easy schedule after this game and are in a better position on paper than the Raiders are in regards to their path to the playoffs and a potential division title.
That is why it is key the Raiders bring the same intensity and focus to this game that they have in three of the past four weeks: because a loss drops the Raiders to 2 1/2 games back with seven to play, against a tough schedule while Kansas City has an easier path. This game is huge for obvious reasons.