Power Rankings: Raiders in the thick of the playoff hunt

We're only halfway through the 2019 season and there's still a lot of games to be played, but it is amusing to look at all the analysts who had written the Raiders off before the season even started. At 5-4, the Silver and Black are locked into the playoff hunt and are only one win from matching the Kansas City Chiefs. Even with a favorable schedule in front of them, the Raiders can't overlook anyone; let's take a look at the Week 11 Power Rankings.

Current Ranking: 14

Previous Ranking: 16

Analysis:

Do you believe in the Raiders yet? Jon Gruden's team, playing in what might have been the final prime-time game ever in Oakland, went ahead on a late touchdown drive, then made an impressive final stand on defense to secure a huge 26-24 win over the AFC West-rival Chargers. Once again, a major storyline was the standout play of Raiders general manager Mike Mayock's sterling rookie class. Running back Josh Jacobs (picked 24th overall) put the Raiders ahead for good with an 18-yard score, defensive end Clelin Ferrell (No. 4 overall) had 2.5 sacks and defensive end Maxx Crosby (picked in the fourth round) capped a big night with a hurry and hit on Philip Rivers that led to the game-icing interception by veteran safety Karl Joseph. Oakland's defense made life miserable for Rivers, who threw three picks and had two more wiped away by penalty. With winnable games ahead against the Bengals and Jets (who have a combined record of 2-16), the Raiders have a legit chance to make the playoffs. Knock on wood if you're with them.

Current Ranking: 17

Previous Ranking: 16

Analysis:

If they handle their business over the next two weeks -- at home against the winless Bengals and at the 2-7 Jets -- the Raiders will go to Kansas City with a 7-4 record and first place in the AFC West on the line. Pretty heady stuff for a team that gave up 278 passing yards and four TDs to Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter of the Chiefs' 28-10 win in Oakland on Sept. 15, right? Especially since Arrowhead Stadium has been such a house of horrors for Raiders QB Derek Carr, who is 0-5 in Kansas City with three TD passes and five INTs.

Current Ranking: 13

Previous Ranking: 16

Analysis:

Josh Jacobs is sixth in the NFL with 811 rushing yards. He has more yards, a better per-carry average and more touchdowns than Ezekiel Elliott. The Raiders are a strong contender for a wild-card spot, and Jacobs has played a huge role in that. He’ll be in the Offensive Rookie of the Year mix.

Current Ranking: 14

Previous Ranking: 16

Analysis:

Not a lot was expected from the Oakland Raiders in 2019—at least from the Bleacher Report NFL analysts. The Raiders entered the season in the bottom five of these power rankings.

But they are proving us wrong and have a chance to make the playoffs.

That's no sure bet, of course—the Raiders are still flawed, having one of the softer pass defenses in the league. But after coming from behind in the fourth quarter to win in thrilling fashion Thursday night, they have peeled off four wins in six games after a 1-2 start.

Quarterback Derek Carr has recaptured his form from a 2016 season in which he won 12 games and led Oakland to a playoff berth before breaking his ankle late in the year. A Raiders pass rush that logged just 13 sacks all of last season got to Philip Rivers five times in Week 9 and forced three interceptions.

In an underwhelming season for the AFC, the Raiders are in the thick of the chase for a wild-card spot and just one back in the loss column of the West-leading Chiefs.

And with one of the easiest schedules in the league the rest of the way, the Raiders are well-positioned to make a run at the playoffs.

Current Ranking: 10

Previous Ranking: 15

Analysis:

Yes, they are in the playoff race. Kudos to Jon Gruden for the job he's done.

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