The Oakland Raiders have won three in a row while moving to a half-game behind the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West race. That winning streak will be on hold as the Raiders enter their bye week in Week 10.
For now, the Raiders are 5-4 and have been rolling through the competition, sometimes closer than others.
But in two weeks, the Raiders will begin what looks like a brutal conclusion to the season, including road trips to Pittsburgh, Kansas City, San Diego and Jacksonville, while at home, they will play Miami, Denver and Indianapolis.
There are no easy victories in that stretch and if the Raiders are truly a playoff team, they will have to win most of these games.
The Raiders, despite being underdogs, have beaten the Steelers the last two times they have played, including a miracle fourth quarter from Bruce Gradkowski.
Going to San Diego will not be an easy task, if their game earlier this season is any indication. The Chargers still have the NFL's leading total offense and second total defense.
Playing at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 17 could determine the division race and it was far from easy to beat the Chiefs at home in Oakland.
The Indianapolis Colts may be the best team in the NFL, and the Raiders will host them in Week 16 in the final regular season home game.
With all of these difficult games ahead, the Raiders will be put to the test. We will all know by January 2011 if this Raiders team is playoff-bound or if this season was just a nice rebuilding year and we will have to wait until next year for another shot at the playoffs.