OK, one game in, the Raiders were never out of the AFC West just because they did a Week 1 face-plant in Tennessee.
But if the Raiders needed any more evidence that their division was up for grabs, it came in the form of a 21-14 win by the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.
Neither team was impressive, although you could argue that if the Raiders had mustered half the emotion in Nashville that the Chiefs did on their home field, they’d at least have been competitive.
But the Chargers’ decision to play hardball with wide receiver Vincent Jackson and left tackle Marcus McNeill has brought them back to a so-so field.
As bad as the Raiders were in Tennessee, they’re tied with Denver and San Diego at 0-1 with the Chiefs at 1-0. If they continue to play as poorly as they did in Week 1, nothing else matters.
But while the Raiders deserve a healthy dose of skepticism based on the last seven years, visual evidence suggests that despite what happened Sunday, they’re considerably better as a passing offense than they were a year ago. They’ve looked awful for several years in that regard in training camp and it played out that way in the regular season, so I’m going to believe my eyes and expect they’ll be upgraded to somewhere near average this year because that’s what I saw in July and August.
Surely it wasn’t a complete mirage, the same way their horrid play in the passing game in past camps wasn’t a mirage.
Looks like 8-8 means contention, and the next three opponents are St. Louis, Arizona and Houston. With the possible exception of the Texans _ which plays the Raiders in Oakland _ none of these teams presents the kinds of challenges the Raiders faced in Nashville.
Hit the quarter-turn at 2-2, and as Tom Cable likes to say, they’re on schedule.
All points worth debating in Tuesday’s chat at noon, Pacific time.