AFC West Title: The Next Three Weeks Are Crucial for the Oakland Raiders
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With Oakland's (5-5) blow-out in Pittsburgh being coupled with Kansas City's (6-4) handling of the Cardinals and San Diego's (5-5) recent rally, there is a three-way battle for the AFC Crown with only the Denver Broncos trailing behind.
It is going to be a battle every step of the way and the Oakland Raiders certainly have the toughest schedule of the three. If the Silver-and-Black are going to emerge from the darkness and finally visit the playoffs after seven long seasons being the laughing stock of the NFL, then the next three weeks are absolutely vital.
It is easy to see how things could fall into Oakland's lap, despite the tough schedule...
Week 12 (Raider bounce back):
San Diego travels to Indianapolis (6-4), who will be sore after losing a close game to the New England Patriots. The Chargers are 1-4 on the road, so a home victory is the likely result.
On the same weekend, Kansas City travels to Seattle (5-5). The Chiefs are also 1-4 on the road and the 'Hawks are 3-1 at home. This is a must-win game for Seattle if they are to re-establish themselves at the top of the NFC West. Let's again chalk up a home win.
Back in the Bay, the Raiders host the Dolphins (5-5) who are actually 4-1 on the road. However, Oakland MUST win this game. No "ifs", no "buts", no near misses. It is win or be done for Tom Cable's men.
What will Oakland's record be with three games to go?
So next Sunday night, we might see the AFC West looking like this: 1: Oakland (6-5), 2: Kansas City (6-5), 3: San Diego (5-6)
Week 13 (AFC West Crunch Week):
This is the key weekend and will go a long way to decide who is going to win the division. If Oakland beats the Chargers on the road and Denver manages to turn the tables on the Chiefs in a grudge match at Arrowhead, then the Raiders will have a huge advantage in the division as they will own permanent tie-breakers against the Chargers (2-0 head-to-head) and against the Chiefs (4-0 in division against 1-3).
AFC West would be: 1: Oakland (7-5), 2: Kansas City (6-6), 3: San Diego (5-7)
Week 14 (Chiefs or Chargers?):
One team will fall back from contention as the Chargers host the Chiefs. If San Diego can bounce back with a win and Oakland can win on the road in Jacksonville (6-4) then the Raiders have one foot in the playoffs already.
AFC West would be: 1: Oakland (8-5), 2: San Diego (6-7), 2: Kansas City (6-7)
With Oakland holding tie-breakers over both rivals, this in effect puts Oakland into a two game lead with three games of the season to go. One win from the final three would be enough to secure the AFC West crown for Al Davis and his Oakland Raiders!
None of the above is really out of the question. Wouldn't that feel a whole lot better than it does today if it all came true?
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