The Raiders have their biggest game of the season this Sunday when they travel to Jacksonville to face the AFC South leading Jaguars, a team playing better football than most of the NFL in recent weeks.
The Raiders have been a bit of a roller coaster team this season, with their losses being spectacularly horrid and their wins for the most part impressively dominant.
The Jaguars present a difficult task for the Raiders, as the diminutive but incredible Maurice Jones-Drew has run harder and better than anyone in the NFL over the last five weeks. The Raiders, though, after early season struggles in stopping the run, have shored up their rushing defense in recent weeks.
The Raiders absolutely need to win this game to have any chance of making the playoffs. In fact, it's safe to say that with the Kansas City Chiefs sitting at 8-4, the San Diego Chargers at 6-6 and both with a far less daunting upcoming schedule than Oakland, the Raiders must win their next three games to stay in sight of their first AFC West crown since Rich Gannon was offending people from under center.
One thing is for sure: it's nice to be talking playoffs in Week 14 for the first time in the last, oh, thousand years or so.
But the pressure is decidedly on for every game the rest of the season. This team has shown the ability to beat anyone, including themselves. That must cease for the playoffs to remain a realistic goal.
This is a huge game between two teams with similar strengths and everything to lose. Both teams will need to bring their best.