How the Raiders Can Make a Playoff Run
With five weeks to go, the possibilities are (almost) endless. To help slim those realities to a more manageable number we’ll start by eliminating the least likely outcomes, both on the ‘happy’ and ‘sad’ ends of the spectrum.
The Dark Side:
On the dark side we have 8-8. And before you start to get your hopes up thinking the team can enter week 17 at 7-8 and sneak in at 8-8 (ala 2019), I’m here to tell you that you can drop that pipe dream here and now. The chances are miniscule. Those odds range between 1% (losses to Indy and Miami) to a whopping 5% with wins over all teams not named the Colts or Dolphins. Summoning my inner cousin Vinny, you can just Forgetaboutit.
The Sunny Side:
On the Cinderella-glass-slipper side of the house, 11-5 gets us in under every imaginable breakdown. Yes, 100% of the time. Whether that’s realistic or not, I’ll leave it to you to decide. The only other thing I’ll add on the 11-5 dreamboat scenario is that if somehow KC goes 1-4 down the stretch, we win the division. (And yes, I can hear you laughing.)
Let’s jump back to reality…
While going 4-1 from here on out wouldn’t be easy to accomplish, nor envision given Sunday’s epic faceplant to the (nearly) hapless 3-7 Falcons, it is a scenario worth exploring further. Mathematically, we would be in great shape at 10-6. The team would have a 93% chance of getting in as a WC even with a loss to the Colts or the Dolphins. If the loss was to one of the other three teams we play (Jets, Broncos or Chargers) the odds jump up to ~98%. So as you can see, 10-6 would almost certainly punch our ticket to the 2020 postseason dance.
This is where things gets dicey and a bit messy. Here, we would finish up at 3-2 down the stretch. Not a collapse but not exactly finishing strong. Still, the odds, depending on who we beat, could be in our favor to get one of the lower seeds.
If we win at home versus Indy and Miami and go 1-2 against everyone else we’re looking at a ~55-58% chance of getting in. Not great but not awful considering we would be losing 2 more games.
End up at 9-7 while losing to either the Colts or the Dolphins and our postseason possibility shrinks like a fat guy jumping into a cold pool. In this case we’d be looking at a 1/3 shot at getting a berth (35-37%).
Lose to Indy and Miami? Yeah, we’re likely toast. Even after beating Denver, Los Angeles and New York the odds evaporate down to a paltry 18-20%, or a 1 in 5 shot.
Given all this uncertainty, we really don’t have much wiggle room at 9-7. 10-6 is what this team should be gunning for. Naturally, 11-5 would be ideal but expecting us to win out, especially after this recent beat down, is probably a tad unrealistic. Winning 4 out of 5 will be more than respectable and will almost assuredly get the job done no matter who that one loss comes from.
One thing to keep in mind as this (very) weird season heads into December and early January…
As we have seen, home field advantage doesn’t amount to much during a fan-less pandemic. As such, lower seeds will have a MUCH better chance than normal to make a deep run. And, as the 2011 Giants showed us, it’s not your end record that matters but instead how strong you play down the stretch. That year the Giants also sat at 6-3, fell to 6-6 and ended up winning three of their final four games. And once they were in, they couldn’t be stopped, even by the nefarious Patriots.
Now the Silver and Black must do the same. 2020 has been a shit-show of epic proportions, and I think it’s high time Gruden ends the curse he helped initiate by engineering an epic run of our own. And that run starts in New York.
‘Til next week my Raider Brethren…
Keep the Faith!