With quarterback Rich Gannon, the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense and a defense led by Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Woodson and linebacker William Thomas, the Raiders won their first AFC West title since 1990. That was the last time the Raiders reached the AFC championship game.
The Miami Dolphins never advanced to the AFC championship game in four seasons under Jimmy Johnson, losing twice in the divisional playoffs each of the last two seasons by a combined score of 100-10.
In coach Dave Wannstedt's first season, the Dolphins hope to reach the AFC title game for the first time in eight years.
For the first time in eons, the Dolphins have a ball control offense to go with their dominant defense.
A journeyman for six NFL seasons, Lamar Smith beat out J.J. Johnson in training camp for the role of feature back and produced 1,139 yards -- the second-best total in club history -- and 14 touchdowns.
But he made his biggest splash last week, capping a a club playoff-record 209-yard rushing performance with a 17-yard touchdown in overtime, lifting the Dolphins to a 23-17 victory over Indianapolis in a wild card game.
The 209 yards is the second-best in NFL playoff history, behind only Eric Dickerson's 248 yards in a 1985 postseason game for the Los Angeles Rams against Dallas. Larry Csonka held the team record with 145 yards against Minnesota in Super Bowl VIII in January 1974.
With 40 carries, Smith set a playoff record, surpassing the mark of 38 shared by John Riggins and Ricky Bell.
Oakland ranked fifth against the run this season, far better than Indianapolis. With Darrell Russell and Grady Jackson at the tackle positions and Greg Biekert at middle linebacker, the Raiders will key on Smith.
That will force quarterback Jay Fiedler to cut down on his turnovers. He was intercepted three times in the first half last week, putting his team in a 14-0 hole. But he hit tight end Jed Weaver with a nine-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds left in the fourth quarter to force the overtime.
The Raiders led the NFL with 154.4 rushing yards per game with former Dolphin Tyrone Wheatley and Napolean Kaufman providing the contrasting styles in the backfield.
Gannon is also credited with bolstering the attack with 529 rushing yards, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. He can also beat you with his arm, throwing for 3,430 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Tim Brown is Gannon's chief target, catching 76 passes for 1,128 yards and 11 touchdowns.
But Miami's defense allowed the third fewest points in the NFL (226) behind Baltimore and Tennessee. Defensive ends Trace Armstrong and Jason Taylor combined for 31 sacks and cornerbacks Sam Madison and Patrick Surtain will match up against Brown and Andre Rison.
Miami beat the Raiders, 16-9, here on October 31, 1999.
The Raiders lead the regular season series, 15-7-1, but the Dolphins have won the last three meetings.
The Raiders hold a 2-1 edge in the postseason.
In the last postseason meeting, the Raiders pulled out a last-minute 28-26 victory on a touchdown pass from Ken Stabler to running back Clarence Davis in January 1974.