The hosts of ESPN’s First Take haven’t been too kind to the Oakland Raiders in the past. This fact has led to Derek Carr challenging them to a UFC fight and Johnathan Abram getting in a heated argument with Stephen A. Smith. The easiest shield from negative criticism is to win and the Raiders are finally learning how to do that. At 5-4 and with two easy games ahead of them, Oakland could go on a serious run that might end in a playoff berth.
Jon Gruden has been criticized quite a bit since his return to the silver and black, but he’s finally starting to win over some of the doubters. This led to Max Kellerman predicting a future Super Bowl for the team.
“Gruden has his hands all over this team and you see out the gate they are competitive and that’s the most important thing,” said Kellerman. “I think a Super Bowl could be in their future, I don’t think it will be this year.”
Not even the biggest Raider supporters think a Super Bowl will happen this year, but 2019 was supposed to be a rebuilding season for the team. Oakland is currently ahead of schedule and even a simple wild-card playoff berth would be a huge step in the right direction for the team. Don’t be surprised if the Raiders are sleeper Super Bowl favorites heading into 2020.
Stephen A. Smith Defends Raiders
Even though the Raiders clearly looked improved heading into 2019, many still doubted they would be a good team. Stephen A. Smith talked about this fact.
“The reality is, I didn’t hear a damn soul up here saying that the Oakland Raiders are gonna win some Super Bowl,” said Smith. “I didn’t hear anybody saying they’re going to the Super Bowl. What we’re talking about is the elevation to respectability combined with the question marks that exist throughout the AFC.”
Smith goes on to note how many of the teams in the AFC haven’t proven to be consistent throughout the season and spoke about how the Raiders are in a good position.
“The fact that the Raiders seem to be rolling a little bit… I’m just saying anything’s possible.”
The AFC has been far from impressive this season. The New England Patriots were 8-0 to start the season, but they had an incredibly easy schedule. They were recently blown out by a strong Baltimore Ravens team. The Kansas City Chiefs have a bad defense and Patrick Mahomes is banged up. The Ravens aren’t consistent and have been blown out by a mediocre Cleveland Browns team. The Raiders aren’t perfect, but no team in the AFC is currently. If Oakland can ride the hot hand into the playoffs, they could surprise a lot of teams come playoff time.
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Raiders Represented Throughout NFL’s Top 100 Teams
The NFL is in the midst of revealing their Top 100 Teams in league history and the Raiders have seen a number of former squads represented. They have yet to release the top-30 teams yet, but there have been three Raiders teams to appear. The first was the 1967 team, which clocked in at 78. Though that team didn’t win the Super Bowl, it was the first Raider team to win the AFL Championship.
The 1980 Super Bowl Champion team was listed 74 and the 1983 team was placed at 33. One team that has yet to make the list is the 1976 team. That Raiders team has a chance to be placed in the top-five as it was one of the most impressive rosters in NFL history.