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Terrell Owens is again one of the NFL's two most dangerous wide receivers and model on-field citizens?
ALAMEDA -- Let me get this straight:

Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are again the NFL's two most dangerous wide receivers and model on-field citizens?

Brett Favre is rewriting the record book for the um, um, um, undefeated Green Bay Packers?

As if that's not enough to make you choke on your NFL office pool, consider this: The Raiders are in second place, and it's almost October.

OK, so they're tied for second in the AFC West. And, if you really want to get cynical, they're also tied for last place, their 1-2 record matching those of the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs. That trio sits only one game -- or one timeout, in the Raiders' case -- behind the division-leading Denver Broncos.

If the NFL world seems upside down in other parts of our country, dare we think the Raiders have a shot at ...

Oh, it's almost too laughable to write the word.

OK, here goes: Can the Raiders actually "contend" for the AFC West title, after a four-year hiatus?

Now, now, let's not let one win go to our skull and swords. That 26-24 Houdini act Sunday came against the Cleveland Browns, not an AFC West foe. That's a necessary disclaimer while the Raiders lug around a 15-game losing streak against AFC West foes.

But when's the last time we could actually consider -- not in deep thought, mind you -- that the Raiders have potential to make noise in the AFC West?

"This organization needed a win," Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said Monday. "I'd lost two in a row here, and that felt like a long time. There are people in this building who haven't won in 322 days. So it was important for everyone in the building.

"We've got to build off it, though."

As they build, they'll be happy to know the rest of the once-dominant AFC West isn't, well, so dominant.

The Chargers lost at Green Bay, with LaDainian Tomlinson running his mouth on the sideline more than his feet on the so-called tundra.

Meanwhile, the Broncos fell at home to Jacksonville, an upset Kiffin said he would have lost money if he had bet, "which I don't do," he quickly added.

"It just shows," Kiffin said, "that that's why they go and play the games, like Berman says. They are so close and games are going totally different ways than one would expect."

Uh, raise your hand if you expected any NFL coach to quote from the Book of (ESPN's Chris) Berman.

Oh, as for the Chiefs, we lost touch with them when our HBO subscription expired, but sources say they won Sunday for their first (and final?) win.

"Whether (another AFC West) team wins or loses, I have no control over that, so I don't worry about that," Kiffin said.

Ah, spoken like a guy who's been lovin' life atop the BCS world the past couple years at USC.

After win No. 1 in his career, he sighed on the phone to his dad -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin -- about problems with the Raiders' goal-line offense Sunday.

"Wait a minute, this ain't SC anymore," the senior Kiffin told him. "This is the NFL. It's hard to win. Don't be picky."

Good thing he is the picky type, though. The Raiders should be thankful their coach is a perfectionist. He's also got a sense of humor.

When he was asked if he had any regrets for shipping Moss to the Patriots for a fourth-round draft pick, Kiffin replied: "Yeah, we don't look very smart right now, do we? Randy's playing great. Would he have put those numbers up here? You never know."

Moss, according to our Belichick-esque spies, has 22 receptions for 403 yards and five touchdowns. And we most certainly know he wouldn't have those numbers here, not under the run-oriented attack Kiffin is relying on while Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper get things in order for the heir apparent, JaMarcus Russell.

Russell's watched from the sidelines the past two weeks and listened in on the play calls.

"All the time I'm visualizing things that could happen, and I visualize playing out there," Russell said. "Being a competitive person, I hate to see my team playing without me out there."

So what's he learned so far?

"It ain't over till it's over," Russell responded. "I've seen it twice already."

The Raiders' losing streak is over, and Kiffin wants his team to soak up this winning feeling.

"We just need to keep winning. It doesn't matter how we do it," linebacker Kirk Morrison said after Sunday's win. "This was ugly, but we're 1-2 now."

And in second place.

Contact Cam Inman at cinman@bayareanewsgroup.com.