The Kansas City Chiefs have dominated the AFC West during Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach, winning the division five years in a row. But when asked about the gap between the Raiders and the Chiefs, tight end Darren Waller said he believes that Las Vegas is in prime position to knock their division rivals down a few pegs.
“We don’t feel like the gap is that big, honestly,” Waller told NBC Sports Bay Area. “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.”
At first glance, the idea that the Raiders are anywhere close to the Chiefs seems almost laughable. After all, the Raiders have yet to make the postseason with Jon Gruden as head coach, while the Chiefs have been in the playoffs the last six seasons, including back-to-back Super Bowl appearances.
But the 8-8 Raiders played the Chiefs extremely well this season, handing them their first loss in Week 5 and nearly pulling off a season sweep in their second matchup, if not for some late-game heroics from Patrick Mahomes. While Kansas City will surely remain the favorite heading into next season, perhaps the Raiders could be ready to finally challenge the Chiefs for the division title.
The biggest area the Raiders need to improve is defense, as the team gave up 478 points last season, which was among the worst in the league.