The Oakland Raiders boast a 3-2 record through the first five weeks of the NFL season. It’s a record that may surprise a good chunk of people as Oakland’s 2019 prospects weren’t all that great following the Antonio Brown debacle.
The Raiders won their first game of the season against AFC West divisional rivals, the Denver Broncos. However, that was followed by two pretty convincing losses to the Kansas City Chiefs (another AFC West rival) and the Minnesota Vikings.
At 1-2, no one would’ve been shocked if Oakland fell apart and 2019 became a lost cause.
Instead, they have won two straight games (against the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears). At 3-2, the season is far from over. The playoffs are even in their sights. Can they make it though?
Here are four reasons the Raiders have a real chance to make the playoffs in 2019.
The AFC West division hasn’t been all that great this year. Obviously, the Kansas City Chiefs are one of the best teams in the NFL. However, the Raiders find themselves in second place right behind them.
The other two teams are the Denver Broncos (1-4) and the Los Angeles Chargers (2-3). Los Angeles has been especially disappointing, and even gave the Broncos their only win of the season.
Oakland has one more game with the Chiefs and one more game with the Broncos, while still having two left against the Chargers.
Oakland can definitely pick a few more wins up against their division (although that Chiefs game won’t be easy). They also have a very legitimate shot at finishing second in the AFC West. That puts them in prime position for a Wild Card spot.
The Raiders have a legitimate running game. It’s incredible how much having just one serious threat can change things.
When a team has a completely established game, things fall into place.
Josh Jacobs is just a rookie but looks every bit the real deal. Through five games, Jacobs has 430 yards and four touchdowns on 88 carries (4.9 yards per carry).
He just ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns against the elite Chicago defense. It’s not like he’s just running it up on bad defenses. Oh, and the Raiders won that game.
Say what you want about this being a passing league now, but the running game still has it’s place. That was proven once again when the Raiders beat the Bears on the legs of Jacobs.
He won them that game, he can definitely run them to victory a few more times.
The remaining schedule for Oakland is not easy.
They have games against the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans left. As well as the Chiefs. Those are definitely the three hardest games left on their schedule.
They also get the one-win Broncos again. The rest of the games are against the Detroit Lions, Chargers (twice), Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Not pushovers, but not exactly murder’s row.
Even if they lose those three hardest games on the schedule, they should absolutely beat the Bengals and Jets.
That’s puts them at 5-5 with that last list of teams left. Give them the Broncos game, and one Chargers game. Give them the Titans as well (that offense is struggling mightily). Just one more win gives them nine on the year.
That definitely puts the Raiders in the playoff hunt.
The Oakland defense hasn’t exactly been dominant this year. They’re 14th in points per game and 13th in total yards per game.
So they are a little bit better than the middle of the pack, but just barely.
The Raiders have some very nice pieces though that could definitely help them pick up some big wins.
Clelin Ferrell has tons of potential and Benson Mayowa has been fantastic this year. Meanwhile, Lamarcus Joyner, Karl Joseph and Erik Harris is a dangerous trio of safeties in the secondary. They can create plays.
This defense isn’t special. They likely aren’t going to shut down the Chiefs in their next matchup. In fact, don’t be surprised if Aaron Rodgers and company give them fits when they face off with the Packers.
However, they won’t get the score run up on them. They’ll stop the offenses that they should stop (for the most part) and could come up with some big plays and big games this year.
With Jacobs running the offense, Oakland should be good at controlling the clock. Running the ball often means you have a strong chance of winning the time of possession battle. That also keeps the defense fresh.
When fresh, this defense should be good enough to help Oakland sneak out a few extra victories. Maybe those are enough victories to find themselves in the playoffs this year.