You knew the Oakland Raiders would not go 16-0 and the St. Louis Rams would not go 0-16. That scenario became official Sunday when St. Louis beat Oakland 28-13.
The Raiders, however, are faced with their most crucial stretch of games to date over the next two weeks. Why, might you ask? Very simple, they are against division opponents. Oakland hosts San Diego followed by a trip to Kansas City.
The mere fact of playing AFC West foes makes these next two games vital but also because the AFC West has shown to be the NFL's most formidable to date with San Diego (5-1), Oakland (4-1), Denver (4-2) and Kansas City (3-3).
Since the 2002 season is the first under the league's new realignment of eight four team divisions, there are now only two nondivision winners to advance to the playoffs. That means someone in the AFC West could be disappointed at season's end. If the Raiders are to avoid being one of those teams, they can't stub their toe.
Oakland has defeated the Chargers in seven of the last eight head-to-head matchups but six of those games have been decided by seven points or less. San Diego has been a significantly improved team under new head coach Marty Schottenheimer, who coached the Kansas City from 1989-1998. The Chiefs defeated the Raiders in 19 of 21 matchups under Schottenheimer.As for Kansas City, the Raiders have beaten the Chiefs five straight times but those contests have been close as well. Three or fewer points, however, have decided four of those five contests.