After the Denver Broncos lost in Week 5, Oakland has a rare opportunity to make a run at the top spot in the AFC West. The Raiders will have to get past a divisional rival first when they welcome Kansas City to the West Coast on Sunday.
Derek Carr's ascendance from promising quarterback to borderline superstar has the Raiders trending towards their first postseason appearance since 2002. The third-year passer has improved each season he's suited up in silver and black, bumping his quarterback rating up from 76.6 as a rookie to 102.3 -- currently seventh in the NFL -- through five weeks of 2016. With 11 touchdown passes and just two interceptions, he's got Oakland sitting at 4-1 and up to ninth in SB Nation's power rankings.
Carr has had help from an offense with a diverse array of weapons. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree are each on pace for 1,100-plus-yard receiving seasons. Three different Raiders running backs -- Jalen Richard, Latavius Murray, and DeAndre Washington -- have rushed for 170 yards or more this year. That group has Oakland ranked fourth in the league in total offense and fifth in scoring.
It may not be time to crown the team as the NFL's next big thing just yet. It's worth noting the Raiders' wins haven't exactly come against top competition. They've beaten only one team with a winning record: the Baltimore Ravens. Two other wins have come against opponents with only a sole victory on the season.
Kansas City hasn't lived up to expectations this season after last year's playoff push, but the Chiefs will give their AFC West counterpart a stiff test on Sunday. Alex Smith has been the team's driving force in wins but has been effectively shut down in KC losses:
The team has had an extra week to recover from the beating it sustained at the hands of Pittsburgh in Week 4. The Steelers tore apart the Chiefs defense en route to a 43-14 Sunday Night Football beatdown. Kansas City limited All-Pro wideout Antonio Brown to just four receptions, but two of those went for touchdowns while a recharged Le'Veon Bell sprang for 178 yards in his first game of the season.
The Chiefs will face an offense with a similarly diverse array of weapons in Week 6. While they have impressive singular pieces in players like Eric Berry and Marcus Peters, the team's ineffective pass rush (just five sacks this season, second worst in the league) has given opponents the time needed to poke holes in a talented secondary.
That's something good teams have taken advantage of. Like Oakland, Kansas City's wins have come against less-than-impressive competition. The two teams they've beaten have a combined 2-8 record.
The Raiders are trying to make it to their first playoff game since George W. Bush was inaugurated. The Chiefs are trying to go to the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office. One of these AFC West mainstays will get one step closer to their goal on Sunday.
How to watch Chiefs vs. Raiders
Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
Place: Oakland Alameda Coliseum, Oakland, Calif.
Announcers: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon, Scott Kaplan
Online: Sunday Ticket