With four weeks left in the 2017 NFL regular season, the AFC West has a three-way tie at the top and it is pretty much anyone’s guess on who will be the champion come January.
Despite the fact the Raiders are tied for first and control their own destiny (have to beat Kansas City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia or Dallas to win the division), the national media is not giving Oakland much of chance.
Raider Nation, here is why the Raiders will be crowned the 2017 AFC West champions.
Why the Chiefs will fall
The Chiefs have lost six out of their last seven games and will be without their top cornerback this week. Marcus Peters is suspended Sunday against an Oakland passing attack that is gaining momentum and with Michael Crabtree back and maybe Amari Cooper as well.
With Peters’ actions against the New York Jets, it seems as if Andy Reid has lost his team. It has gotten so bad that the team had to intervene and suspend Peters before the biggest game of the season.
On the field, Kansas City’s running game has fallen off a cliff, leaving Alex Smith alone to carry the offense, which he has done decently well but he is still limited.
On defense, they are a mess. The team has forced just one turnover over the last four games and has given up 362 yards per game against the poor offenses of the New York Giants (28th ranked), Jets (17th), Dallas Cowboys (18th) and Buffalo Bills (26th).
Oakland has not been winning pretty, but they have been winning and should have enough momentum to beat the reeling and Peters-less Chiefs in Arrowhead.
If Kansas City does fall, their chances at the playoffs fall from 80 percent with a win to just 26 percent after a loss, per Five Thirty Eight, as they will fall a game behind the Raiders without the tiebreaker.
Aside from the Chiefs’ home-field advantage, everything points to the Raiders grabbing the victory. And with it basically being a loser go home game, advantage Oakland in the AFC West.
Why the Chargers will fall
The Los Angeles Chargers have not beaten one team with a winning record this season.
So far, the Chargers best wins have come against the Buffalo Bills without Tyrod Taylor, the Dallas Cowboys without Ezekiel Elliot and the Raiders early in the season during Derek Carr’s return from his back injury.
It is no fault of their own, but Los Angeles has gotten major breaks and is not as good of a football team as the national media is hyping it up to be.
In addition, the Chargers still have to face Washington and the Jets on the road who are a tough out for anyone. Many think Los Angeles will win out, but this is their toughest stretch of their schedule and they haven’t proven that they can consistently beat good teams yet.
If it does come down to the Week 17 in Carson, as I expect it to, it will feel like a home game for the Raider Nation.
Why the Raiders will rise
I am not entirely confident that Oakland will get the victory over Kansas City on Sunday knowing that Jack Del Rio has struggled against Andy Reid and Carr has not faired well in Arrowhead.
However, everything is going the Raiders’ way to break through and get a victory. If that is the case, then Oakland will be on their way to a 2017 AFC West title.
The Raiders will be playing a shorthanded Cowboys team on Sunday Night Football in front of the raucous Black Hole and then will get to finish out the year in front of a pro-Raider crowd at the Stub Hub Center.
Regardless of what happens against the Philadelphia Eagles, which could be ugly, Oakland should be able to win the rest of their other games.
Lastly, each team has had their time to shine this season. The Chiefs won their first five games and the Chargers won six out of their last eight. Now it is time for the Raiders to finish the year strong by winning seven out of their last 10 games and capturing the AFC West title.