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Raiders 2023: AFC off to sluggish start

Dominance of conference hasn’t developed yet

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
Justin Herbert
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Things haven’t started great for the 1-1 Las Vegas Raiders as they prepare for yet another AFC game, Sunday night at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers (kickoff is at 5:20 p.m. PT).

Yet, the truth is many of the top teams in the AFC have struggled to start the season. This conference was expected to be deep, but there has been some early indications that some of the teams expected to be strong might not be as good as expected and that can benefit the Raiders.

Just two of the nine 2-0 teams (the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens) reside in the AFC. Here are some of the AFC teams facing issues heading into Week 3:

  • The New York Jets are in flux after losing new starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers four plays into the season in Week 1. They are back to using draft flop Zach Wilson at quarterback and they are 1-1. The Jets are talented everywhere but quarterback. Yet, we all know the importance of the quarterback.
  • The Cincinnati Bengals, considered serious Super Bowl hopefuls, are 0-2 with two division losses and star quarterback Joe Burrow has an injury issue.
  • The Cleveland Browns lost star running back Nick Chubb for the season Monday and big-money quarterback Deshaun Watson still doesn’t look right.
  • The Los Angeles Chargers are 0-2 with two losses by a combined five points. Yes, these guys are talented but they are famous for blowing games late and coach Brandon Staley could soon be on the hot seat.
  • Defending Super Bowl champion, the Kansas City Chiefs are shaky on offense and while it didn’t hurt last season, the lack of a quality receiver is hurting the team now.
  • The Raiders Week 3 opponent, Pittsburgh, looks awful on offense. It leads the NFL with 14 three and outs so far.
  • The New England Patriots look lost at 0-2.

With seven teams making the playoffs, the AFC made be wide open for the Raiders to make a move. Yes, they aren’t perfect, but that has been an early-season issue for most of the teams in this conference. Teams will likely settle down and figure things out, but there is a chance it will be a wild, bumpy road to the AFC playoffs this season if the first two weeks are any indication.