The Oakland Raiders haven't been perfect this season, but they've been excellent on the road, and at 5-2 overall, they are pushing the Denver Broncos in the AFC West. Oakland, after a few strong offseasons filled with smart drafting and smart signings, seem to have put their worst years behind them and are ready to play on the big stage.
And that means beating teams like the 3-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The game will be played in Tampa Bay, with Oakland boasting a 4-0 record on the road. It will be broadcast on CBS, with a live stream available online via Sunday Ticket.
The Buccaneers should be plenty confident after soundly drubbing the San Francisco 49ers in their last outing, and after a close win over the rival Carolina Panthers before that. It's true that the Panthers look like a shell of their former selves and the 49ers are just terrible from top to bottom, but the Buccaneers can only play the teams in front of them.
Second-year quarterback Jameis Winston hasn't played perfect football by any means, but he's shown just enough to convince the Buccaneers that there is a future there. He's completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 1,596 yards and 12 touchdowns against nine interceptions.
He's playing well enough to have his team at 3-3, and in the NFC South that's good for second place. The Panthers are bad, the New Orleans Saints are bad and the Atlanta Falcons have been struggling recently. The division is pretty wide open and the Buccaneers can take it if they can play their best football.
They have hardly done that this year, though, losing to the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals, two teams that have struggled themselves this season. They have won their past two games, but after this tough meeting against the Raiders, they will host the Falcons in what could surprisingly be a hugely important matchup in deciding the NFC South.
The Buccaneers may be competitive in the division thanks to the relative weakness of the teams around them, but beating the Raiders would be a big statement, a much bigger deal now than it looked prior to the start of the regular season.
Derek Carr has been excellent this season for the Raiders, and it looks like the franchise truly has found its franchise quarterback of the future. Carr has completed 65.9 percent of his passes for 1,808 yards with 13 touchdowns against just three interceptions. The Raiders have allowed him to be sacked seven times this season.
The running game hasn't amounted to much on an individual basis, but the Raiders have combined for 804 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground this year, while their defense has allowed only marginally more than that in rushing yardage, so things aren't too unbalanced there. The Buccaneers do not have a good run defense, though, and it may be time for an Oakland running back to shine.
How to Watch Raiders vs. Buccaneers on Sunday
Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, Fla.
Announcers: Andrew Catalon, Steve Beuerlein, Steve Tasker, Chris Fischer
Online Streaming: Sunday Ticket