After a nice, relaxing bye week which couldn't have worked out much better for the Raiders, the boys get ready to buckle their chinstraps and take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Steel City this Sunday in a rare 1 p.m. appearance this season.
The Raiders entered the bye on a roll, having won their previous three games and four of their last five. A strong running attack coupled with an aggressive, attacking defense have been the main reasons, but solid quarterback play from Jason Campbell and excellent special teams have been large contributing factors as well.
After the Kansas City Chiefs got pummeled by the Denver Broncos last Sunday, the Raiders, sitting idle, moved into a first place tie with the Chiefs at 5-4, one game ahead of the also idle San Diego Chargers (4-5).
If that wasn't enough good news during the bye, the Steelers are dealing with some injury woes to some key pieces on both sides of the ball, and the Raiders next opponent after Pittsburgh, the Miami Dolphins, suffered so many injuries at the quarterback position last week that they actually brought JaMarcus Russell in for a tryout.
The Raiders have been playing their best football in years, and Coach Tom Cable, after a rocky start, has this team believing in themselves, each other, and a winning culture.
With numerous teams sitting at 5-4 in the AFC and the Chiefs and Chargers, and to a minute extent the Broncos, still in the hunt for the AFC West title, every game from here on out takes on a measure of significance; especially considering the Raiders have a much tougher road than their AFC West brethren in terms of schedule.
Still, as a long time and recently long suffering Raider fan, to say that each game at this point in the season carries significance is to say I'm a happy man; but also now very much attached to the result of each game.
I want to see the continued resurgence of this proud franchise, and that means continuing excellence on the field of play. With that in mind, I give you Pressures, Hurries, and Knockdowns, week 11 edition.