October 04, 2011
Maybe predicting that you're going to win the AFC West is a little like predicting that you can win a pie-eating contest against the Olsen twins. But for the Raiders, it's a step, and not at all an unreasonable prediction.
If the Chiefs or Broncos are going to win anything this year, it's going to be the right to draft Andrew Luck. That leaves the Raiders and Chargers, and the Chargers have done nothing to change the notion that they're the same mistake-prone, careless bunch that consistently plays down to the level of their competition. At the moment, only the Raiders seem like a group that's on their way up.
Head coach Hue Jackson told Paul Gutierrez of CSNBayArea.com that he believes that's good enough to get his team to a division title.
"We have a great group of leaders in that room. I call on them, and I call on the rest of our football team and our coaching staff. We're not backing down from what the expectation is here by no stretch of the imagination. It's not going to change. We're going to win the AFC West."
Not only do I not think he's crazy, I kind of said it before he did. It's obviously nowhere near a lock, and this is a team that's got some major defensive concerns. The Raiders have been about average against the pass, but they get mauled on the ground. They give up a league-worst 5.9 yards a carry. That's more than a half-yard worse than anyone else.
But their own ground game, and their ability to control the ball and the clock makes them a threat against anyone. They lead the league in rushing with 178.8 ground yards per game, and they don't even get to play their own sad rushing defense. The threat of the run allows their passing game to be adequate, and ensures that they can compete in every game.
Hue Jackson's talking big. His team is in a position to back him up.
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