The Oakland Raiders didn’t hit the field over the weekend – they handled their business on Thursday night – but for a large chunk of Sunday afternoon, fans of the Silver and Black had their eyes peeled on Music City, where the Tennessee Titans were playing host to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Now, regardless of the week, Raider Nation has no issue cheering on the team squaring off against Patrick Mahomes and Co., but considering the implications of a positive result – for the Titans – I have a feeling that the rooting interests were a little higher than normal for the Week 10 clash.
And following Kansas City’s 35-32 loss, the already snug AFC West has become even tighter, as the Raiders and Chiefs are now even in the loss column through Week 10.
Now, the Chiefs technically own the outright lead in the division since they have six wins compared to the Raiders’ five, but nevertheless, with a Week 13 clash in Kansas City approaching on December 1, Head Coach Jon Gruden’s team now finds themselves squarely in the AFC playoff conversation.
That said, while the pundits are talking – particularly considering the Raiders’ two wins in the span of five days – Gruden is largely ignoring the outside chatter about his team.
“I don’t feel like we can respond to any of that stuff,” said Gruden Monday. “I just watched the [Atlanta] Falcons go to New Orleans and beat them – and beat them bad. Miami goes on the road and beats Indianapolis, no one really expected that would happen. I try not to listen to the talk shows. I was a part of that for nine years. I turned the sound down. We’re going to get what we deserve. We have a long way to go, and a lot of things to overcome.”
First up on that list – including dealing with the injuries to the roster that seem to rear their heads at this point of the season – is a Week 11 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, a team headed in the opposite direction of the Raiders.
While Derek Carr and Co., are coming off back-to-back wins, the Bengals have yet to taste victory in 2019, and have now officially embraced the Ryan Finley Experience – at least for the time being.
That said, the unexpected has become the norm this regular season, and Gruden knows that his team is in for a battle at 1:25 PM this Sunday.
“I know Cincinnati,” Gruden explained. “I know those players. I know those coaches, two of them were on my staff last year. We’re going to get their best shot, and we better be ready to go or else.”
The Raiders have a chance to finish their longest home stand of 2019 without a loss, and with more than half of the season now behind them, picking up wins – especially at home – is paramount if this team wants to play meaningful football in December.
Let’s see if they can hold serve at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this weekend, but even if they do, and the national media ramps up their chatter about Gruden, Carr and the rest of the team, don’t expect the Raiders’ head coach to pay them much mind.