The AFC West is the Kansas City Chiefs‘ division and has been for five straight years. The Las Vegas Raiders were the only team to beat them in the regular season in a game in which Patrick Mahomes played. Despite that fact, the Raiders have a lot of work to do before they can compete in the division.
However, Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller doesn’t think his team is that far off.
“I really don’t think there’s much because the first game we won, the second game they score at the end and if you ask people on defense, they say we can’t happen but those are two games that we feel like we should have won,” Waller told NBC Sports Bay Area about the gap between the Raiders and Chiefs. “We don’t feel like the gap is that big, honestly. It’s easy to show up and play them because they are so good and so talented that you naturally want to play your best. We feel like our best is right there with theirs.”
There were times during the 2020 season when the Raiders looked like one of the best teams in the NFL. They had massive wins over the New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns and Chiefs. Unfortunately, they fell apart towards the end of the year and lost five of their last seven.
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Waller Believes Raiders Need Better Consistency
While the Chiefs are the premier team in the NFL, the Raiders may not be as far off as many believe. They beat Kansas City once last season and almost did it a second time. The biggest problem facing the Raiders is that they haven’t been consistent for a full season since 2016. Waller believes that’s what separates Las Vegas and Kansas City right now.
“The Chiefs do it Week 1 through Week 22,” Waller said. “We just found a way to pick our spots. We can do it the first nine weeks fairly consistently, but at the end, it’s not the same. The Chiefs you’re getting that same product every week and you better come ready or it’s not going to look good. So we have to reach that level of consistency that they have. They have a historically great level of consistency that we haven’t reached yet.”
Raiders have had two seasons in a row where they started off 6-4 and had a path to the playoffs. Both seasons, the team had a losing record to down the stretch and missed the playoffs. The talent is clearly there for the team but they have to figure out how to get over the hump.
Henry Ruggs Offers His Thoughts
Wide receiver Henry Ruggs wasn’t there in 2019 but he even noticed that the Raiders got too comfortable during the season.
“One thing probably had to do with complacency, that’s one thing,” Ruggs said. “We kind of got settled on ‘OK, we getting the wins.’ We had a couple tough wins, so we felt like we were doing the right things in certain situations. But you know, as the season goes on and teams get more film on you, you can’t just get by doing the little things wrong. You have to pay attention to all details.”
The Raiders have one winning season since 2002. They have no right to start getting complacent. Once the players understand that, the team should be able to play a full schedule at a high level.