The Oakland Raiders are at the top of the AFC West at the halfway point in the regular season.

Before haters say things like “The AFC West is a horrible division,” or “The Raiders are the only first place team in the league with a negative point differential,” I’d like to point out that the glass pictured to the right is actually half full.

I know because I measured the liquid inside with a Pyrex measuring cup.

It holds two cups of liquid. There is one cup of water in the glass, thus it is half full despite appearing otherwise because the base of the glass is narrower than the top.

The same could be said for the Raiders.

1. Despite injuries to the base, the team has more depth than we thought. Michael Bush has filled in fabulously for Darren McFadden.

Bush has rushed for no less than 96 yards a game since McFadden went down in the Chiefs game Oct. 23, and he had a huge game in Thursday’s win over the Chargers.

McFadden’s mid-foot sprain could keep him out, gulp, most of the season … but that’s in the worst-case scenario. WHEN he returns in time for the playoffs, the Raiders will have the best one-two punch backfield in the league.

2. Warren Sapp is full of Crap. Sapp said that Al Davis never would’ve traded two first round picks for Carson Palmer and added, “Hue Jackson is making his bed and now he’s going to have to lay in it.” The first part is absolutely untrue, and from what I’ve heard, Hue Jackson is more than happy to sleep in the bed that Hue Jackson has made for Hue Jackson.

3. About those draft picks we gave up for Palmer… Who cares? Two of the biggest contributors in the Chargers game were a fifth rounder (Denarius Moore) and a second round pick (Stefen Wisniewski) … Wisniewski switched from left guard to center after Samson Satele got hurt and he’s doing a marvelous job. Wisniewski has the best pedigree since Son-Of-Huggie-Bear Justin Fargas was in the backfield, and he’s only going to get better. The Raiders have scored some bargains in the last two drafts, and I don’t think it’s the end of the world that they won’t have a first rounder for the next two seasons. After all, the team would’ve been better off if they’d never drafted JaMarcus Russell or Robert Gallery.

4. The Second Chance Gang Is doing pretty well. Palmer has improved in almost every statistical category since being thrown into the fire in the Chiefs game. He’s developing a rapport with Moore and next week the Raiders face a Vikings team that is ranked 30th in passing yards allowed. After that it’s Chicago (26th), and Miami (27th), and the Packers (31st). Now, that’s about all the Packers do poorly. BUT … it’s not totally unreasonable to expect the Raiders to win their next three games and go into Lambeau with an 8-4 record and a very confident Palmer keeping the game competitive. Which leads us to the next point…

5. Hue clearly chewed some asses about penalties in the Broncos loss. We’ve heard this from past coaches, but after the penalty-riddled Broncos loss, he essentially said that the Raiders were playing stupid football, and he was right. I’m all for a return to Raiders thuggery, but Richard Seymour in particular has extended far too many offensive drives with his affinty for facemasks. Tim Kawakami in particular was very critical of Jackson and suggested that there were the beginnings of a mutiny in the locker room, and that Jackson basically kissed Al’s ass and painted himself as a Al-colyte to get the job, and has made serious deviations from Al’s core philosophies since his death.

Well, I think he proved Kawakami and other critics wrong with the win over the Chargers.

Blitzing worked very well against Philip Rivers, and the team gave up only 45 yards in penalties. This has been a massive discipline issue all season, and it seems the team listened when he said that anyone could be replaced.

And as far as allegations that he’s a Machavellian careerist and self-promoter? So what? That makes him the perfect successor to Uncle Al. Remember, Davis worked his way up from Assistant Coach to Majority Owner in part by pulling a paper hustle while his business partner was out of the country and unable to respond to the shenanigans. I think we are in good hands, folks.

After Jackson replaced demoted Quentin Groves in favor of Aaron Curry, it lit a fire under Groves’ backside and he made some big hits on special teams against the Browns. Later, Tommy Kelly basically said, “It reminds you to keep your game tight because nobody’s job is safe.”

Davis basically benched eventual Hall of Famer Marcus Allen for three seasons because he didn’t like him and thought he was a cancer on the team.

Yeah, Hue is the perfect successor to Al.

LAST WORD: Despite losing Jason Campbell for the season and McFadden for the foreseeable future, Jackson and the Raiders have done a lot more than “make do” — they’ve stayed in the mix. This is still a team that can win the division and advance in the playoffs.

The Raiders Sports Guy, Francis Mayer, has extensive experience in radio as a producer in Bakersfield, as a former morning show host at 106.1 KRAB and now producing a local morning news show. He’s also a freelance writer and huge Oakland Raiders and Minnesota Twins fan. And yes, he knows that’s an odd combination.