OAKLAND -- Although never one to look past the next game, Raiders coach Dennis Allen felt a glimpse into the possibilities of the future was in order after his team lost for the fourth time in five games.
When the Raiders assembled Monday after a 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, players were greeted with a power-point lecture on the state of the AFC.
"What I wanted our guys to understand is that even though we haven't started the way we wanted to, that everything we set out at the beginning of the year is still right in front of us,'' Allen said. "Sometimes when you start off 1-4, you feel like things are lost, and that's not necessarily the case.''
The Denver Broncos started 1-4 last season, with Allen as defensive coordinator, and ended up winning the AFC West on the final weekend of the season with an 8-8 record.
With a win Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the landscape brightens for the Raiders. Jacksonville is also 1-4, and it's the first of a three-game stretch where opponents are a combined 4-12.
The AFC West leaders are Denver and San Diego, both 3-3 and with games remaining against the Raiders. The Broncos and Chargers are among seven conference teams with .500 records. Only two teams, Houston and Baltimore, both 5-1, are above. 500.
With Kansas City (1-5) on the road and Tampa Bay (2-3) at home to follow, oddsmakers probably would say the Raiders should hit the .500 mark at the midway point of the season.
Left tackle Jared Veldheer, making it clear he's not looking past Jacksonville, thought Allen's talk resonated with the team.
"We're aware of some of that stuff, but when you see it like that, it really stands out,'' Veldheer said. "Everything is still right there, and we have to put it together on Sunday.
"Everybody in this locker room is ready to start getting those 'W's' and string 'em together.' "
Strong side linebacker Philip Wheeler said: "He might have thought that we were down and saying we're out of it, but we're not out of it. We're not out of anything. We can still make our own destiny.''
That destiny starts with the Raiders' first home game since Sept. 23, when they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-31.
The Jaguars come to town having been outscored 68-13 in their past two games, against Cincinnati and Chicago. They've got a second-year quarterback in Blaine Gabbert and an offensive line that has had trouble protecting him.
The main hope for the Jaguars would seem to be getting Maurice Jones-Drew on track to help control the line of scrimmage, afford Gabbert some protection and establish a physical dominance against a Raiders defense that has been hot and cold against the run.
When the teams last met, in Jacksonville in 2010, the Jaguars rushed for 234 yards on 34 carries -- with Jones-Drew getting 101 yards on 23 attempts -- in a 38-31 win that crippled the Raiders' playoff hopes. Jones-Drew scored the game's last touchdown on a 30-yard run.
It offset 476 yards of Oakland offense that included 123 yards on 16 carries by Darren McFadden, who had scoring runs of 51 and 36 yards and caught a 67-yard TD pass.
Rolando McClain, out that day with a foot injury, remembers it well. His role as middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense will be primarily as a run-stopper.
"That was the game. We had to stop the run, and we didn't,'' McClain said. "You have to take that personally. We have to go out and at least try to stop the run, let them know you can't do that two times in a row.''