Last week the Raiders were looking at needing to win the final three games of the season to have a good chance at making the playoffs. After the loss to the Lions, those playoff hopes took a huge hit. But there are still several scenarios that would have the Raiders in the playoffs. Let’s take a look at those scenarios.
Division winning scenarios:
1. The Broncos lose their final two games and the Raiders win their final two games. That would mean the Raiders win the division and make the playoffs. The Chargers (7-7) are tied with the Raiders right now but they play each other in the final week of the season so if the Raiders win out, it would include beating the Chargers.
2. The Raiders win their final two games and the Broncos go 1-1 and lose their season finale to the Chiefs. This would put the Raiders and Broncos tied at 9-7 but the Raiders would have a better division record (4-2) than the Broncos (3-3) and therefore win the division. Keep in mind, winning the division carries a home field playoff game in the first round.
There is no scenario that doesn’t have the Raiders going 2-0. If they lose next week to the Chiefs, the Raiders would need the Chiefs to beat the Broncos. Otherwise the Broncos win the division. If the Chiefs go 2-0 and the Broncos go 0-2 that would have the Chiefs tied with the Raiders and the Chiefs would win the tiebreaker after sweeping the season series. If the Raiders lose to the Chargers in the final week, the Chargers would be at least 1-1 and tied with the Raiders. But again, the Chargers would win the division with a better conference record (7-5 to 6-6). Does your head hurt yet? I know mine does.
Remaining schedules of the AFC West:
Raiders: @Chiefs, Chargers
Broncos: @Bills, Chiefs
Chargers: @Lions, @Raiders
Chiefs: Raiders, @Broncos
Of the teams vying for the wildcard, the Raiders only have a head to head win over the Jets should there be a tiebreaker, though at the moment the Jets are a game ahead of the Raiders. The other teams are the Bengals (8-6), Titans (7-7), and Chargers (7-7).
1. The Raiders go 2-0 and the Bengals, Jets, Titans, and Chargers all go 1-1 or 0-2.
2. The last scenario (as discovered by an astute reader) is like a convoluted game of chess and is the only way the Raiders could make the playoffs with another loss. It has the Bengals and Jets going 0-2 the rest of the way and the Titans going 1-1 or 0-2. The Raiders could then lose to the Chiefs but must beat the Chargers. It also requires the Broncos to beat the Chiefs in the final week. And voila! 8-8 wildcard. So if the Bengals or Jets win this week, this scenario is out.
There are no other scenarios. There is only one wildcard spot available due to the Steelers and Ravens both getting in from the AFC North. One will win the division, the other will get one of the two wildcard spots.
Remaining AFC wildcard team schedules:
Bengals: Cardinals, Ravens
Jets: Giants, @Dolphins
Titans: Jaguars, @Texans
This means the Raiders actually have a slightly better chance of reaching the playoffs by winning their division than getting in as a wildcard. For this coming weekend, Raider fans will want the Bills to beat the Broncos and the Cardinals to beat the Bengals first and foremost.
If the Bengals beat the Cardinals, the Raiders have no chance of getting in as a wildcard regardless. If the Broncos beat the Bills, and of course the Raiders beat the Chiefs, there is still hope. It all mainly hinges on the Raiders winning out first and foremost. If the Jets or Bengals win and the Raiders lose to the Chiefs this week, they’re done.