Heading into the Chargers game two weeks ago, the thinking was that the Raiders would have little or no wiggle room if they hoped to land a playoff berth. That was certainly the case then, even with a win over the Chargers, and that wiggle room just turned into a straight jacket.
The loss to the Jaguars last Sunday has dropped the Raider below .500 once again at 6-7, looking up at every other playoff hopeful in the AFC. In fact, they are considered the only sub .500 AFC team left with any chance of reaching the playoffs.
With just three games left, they must win all three of their remaining games to finish above .500. They are mathematically still very much alive. But they will need a lot of help to accomplish it.
The best possible scenario is for the Raiders to win out, the Chiefs to lose 2 of 3 and the Chargers to lose just one of their remaining games. One of those Chiefs losses would of course have to be the final game against the Raiders. If all of that happens, there will be a three-way tie in the AFC West at 9-7. And the Raiders would break the tie after sweeping both teams in the regular season.
If the Raiders lose one more game, they would need the Chiefs to lose their final three games of the season and the Chargers to lose two of three. This would be highly unlikely with the Chargers having the easiest remaining schedule among playoff contenders. They face the 49ers, Bengals, and Broncos. Hoping the Chargers will lose two of those games is unlikely.
If the Raiders can't win the West, they will be hoping for a wild card slot. If that is the case then the playoff picture looks like this:
The top wild card contenders are Baltimore and the New York Jets. Both teams are at 9-4. The Jets won't overtake the Patriots in the East and if the Ravens can somehow overtake the Central leading Steelers, they will both be in the playoffs. The Ravens have a shot being that they finish the season against the Browns and Bengals. However, the Steelers have the 2nd easiest schedule in the AFC among contenders so the Ravens are looking at a wild card slot.
The next biggest threat is the Jaguars, of whom the Raiders just lost to last Sunday. They are at 8-5 and will need just one win to get the wildcard over the Raiders. They don't have a cakewalk schedule remaining against the Colts, Redskins, and Texans. But they are very likely to pull one win of those three contests.
The next team with a good chance in the Dolphins-- the team the Raiders lost to two Sundays ago. They would need to win two of their final three games and with their next two coming against the Bills and Lions, they have a very good chance to do that. Then the play the Patriots who could be resting their starters in the final game which would really throw a wrench into the playoff picture.
What it comes down to is first and foremost the Raiders can not lose another game. If they can win out, they have a very real shot at winning the AFC West or grabbing a wild card. Next week it is the Broncos-- a game the Raiders should and probably will win. Then it is the Colts who have not looked unbeatable as they had in years passed. That is a winnable game. Then the finale against the Chiefs. The Raiders beat them in Week 9 and they can do it again.
This weekend, it is all about beating the Broncos. Be there to watch the Raiders take on the Broncos. Dark Side Tickets still has tickets for around $45 and field level under $100. To view ticket prices and availability, Cick Here.
Whether you are at the game or at home, Raider fans should be keeping an eye on the scores of the other AFC matchups with playoff implications. This is what you want to see:
Rams over Chiefs (duh)
49ers over Chargers (another duh)
Bills over Dolphins
Saints over Ravens
Steelers over Jets
Colts over Jaguars
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