Don't count the Oakland Raiders on the New York Jets bandwagon and it goes beyond the fact that they are playing each other in Sunday's AFC Divisional playoff game in Oakland.
While the Raiders, were enjoying a first-round bye after earning the AFC's top seed, the Jets were thrashing the Indianapolis Colts 41-0 in Saturday's wild card game. New York has won eight of its last 10 games since a dismal 2-5 start with one of those two defeats coming in Oakland (26-20) on Dec. 2. The Raiders, meanwhile, have been on a roll themselves by winning seven of their last eight games after going 4-4 but suddenly feel overshadowed by the Jets.
"We're on a roll, aren't we?" Raiders right offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy said. "There's something to be said for that. Just because we didn't have a game last week, that doesn't mean we've cooled off."
Oakland starting right guard Mo Collins agreed.
"They're on a hot streak," Collins said. "I guess since we had a week of everybody forgot about us."
There were not many folks who saw the Jets as a legitimate Super Bowl threat when they were bungling with a 2-5 record. The feeling is vastly different now.
"(ESPN analyst) Steve Young said (the Jets) were the best team in football, and I thought, then why are they playing in the wild card?" Raiders wide receiver Jerry Porter said. "But no matter, they have to come here."
Of course, any Raider jab at New York would not be the same without starting left guard Frank Middleton chiming into the mix.
"They say the Jets are the hottest team," Middleton said with a smirk. "We got one less loss than the Jets. Atlanta blew out Green Bay and Indianapolis (the Jets' 41-0 wild card victim) hadn't played nobody."
The two teams have played each other almost often enough since 1999 to pass for divisional opponents. This contest will be the sixth meeting since that time. The Raiders have won four of the previous five including a 38-24 win in last year's wild card game. With that frequency, you'd think Denver, Kansas City or San Diego was coming to town. For that matter, you'd think the Jets were visiting Miami, New England or Buffalo.
"Hey, put them in the AFC West," said Raiders backup running back Randy Jordan, who stands out on special teams.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at email@example.com