Raiders coach lays claim to AFC West

BY foxsports • October 4, 2011

The Oakland Raiders had a "statement" game Sunday against the New England Patriots. They lost by 12 points at home.

Raiders coach Hue Jackson made a statement, anyway.

"We're going to win the AFC West," Jackson proclaimed Monday at his gathering with the Bay Area media.

The Raiders are 2-2. They have not had a winning season since 2002, much less made the playoffs. But the first-year head coach is unwavering in his confidence.

Since the lockout ended and he got to work with his players, Jackson has fed them a constant stream of positive affirmations. Say it, believe it, do it. He has the first two parts down.

"We're not backing down from what the expectation is here, by no stretch of the imagination," Jackson said. "We're going to win the AFC West. We're going to do everything we can to get in the playoffs and go challenge for a Super Bowl."

Though breaking the .500 barrier would seem to be the Raiders' first goal, Jackson's claim to the division crown isn't as much a reach as it might seem at a glance. The Raiders' 2-2 mark puts them in second place, only a game behind the 3-1 Chargers.

The Chargers' three victories have come against teams that are a combined 1-11. The Raiders beat the Chargers twice last year and went 6-0 in the division under since-fired coach Tom Cable en route to an 8-8 overall record.

"We still haven't played our best football," Jackson said. "I think we can be pretty good, and I've got confidence in the guys around me and the coaching staff that things will get fixed."

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