The NFL is now entering it’s final stretch of the regular season. December football is upon us and yet the Autumn Wind is still storming the country. The Raiders’ 9-2 record currently slots them in as the second seed in the AFC. They hold a one game lead over Kansas City, who already have a victory over the Raiders in Oakland.
With five games remaining the Raiders have matching three game leads and head-to-head victories over the current leaders of the AFC South and AFC North and therefore are in a very secure position to earn a first round playoff bye as long as they win their division. By function of the current state of tiebreakers, the Patriots presently sit as the top seed in the AFC. However, should both New England and Oakland win out, the Raiders would overtake the Patriots and secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. If the Raiders and Patriots both lose at least one remaining game but finish tied in the standings and as division winners, the Raiders aren’t guaranteed the top seed as they would be if they won out.
With that in mind, here is who Raider fans should root for in each NFL matchup of the weekend.
Falcons (7-4) over Chiefs (8-3)
Other than the Raider game, this is the biggest game on the docket for week 13. The Chiefs are nipping at the heals of the Raiders for the division crown. Atlanta taking down Justin Houston and crew would give the Raiders a little bit of breathing room heading into the huge AFC West showdown Thursday in the sub-freezing temperatures of Arrowhead. A Kansas City win in Atlanta would put Oakland’s toes to the fire with a need to secure two victories in five days.
Saints (5-6) over Lions (7-4)
In another tale of unusual division leaders, the Lions are kings in the NFC North as we enter December. Ultimately their success or failure affects the Raiders very little. A Saints victory slightly helps the Raiders since the two teams played this season. Oakland’s strength of victory (fourth tiebreaker) and strength of schedule (fifth tiebreaker) both receive a boost when the Raider’s 2016 opponents earn a win. The Saints fit that simple criteria.
Rams (4-7) over Patriots (9-2)
If the Patriots find a way to lose this game it would be great for the Raiders as they could take a one game lead in the conference as long they handle their business against Buffalo on Sunday. This result would also really simplify the tiebreakers between the Raiders and Patriots. Since the head-to-head tiebreaker is not applicable due to them not playing each other, the conference win-loss-tie percentage would take over. With the Raiders already securing a 3-1 record vs their non-conference opponents, New England falling to 2-2 out of conference would mean they would have one more AFC victory than the Silver and Black should the two teams have matching overall records. Simply put, the Raiders wouldn’t win any tiebreakers with the Patriots. However, we still root for the Rams here because there is no need for a tiebreaker if your record is better.
Jaguars (2-9) over Broncos (7-4)
Quarterback powerhouses Blake Bortles and Paxton Lynch are set to do battle vs two secondaries playing at a high level. As unwatchable as that sounds, Denver losing would further push them down in the playoff race. With their loss to the Chiefs last week they not only significantly decreased their chances to win the AFC West, they also lost their position as a wildcard. Overtaken by the dolphins, they currently sit on the outside looking in; where they belong.
Texans (6-5) over Packers (5-6)
With the Raiders’ comfortable lead over Houston in the standings it is safe to root for them as previous opponents. A Texans win would also increase the likelihood of the two Estadio Azteca opponents meeting for a rematch in the playoffs. The Houston fanbase thinks they were robbed. Shutting them up in the playoffs would be very satisfying as a Raider fan.
Eagles (5-6) over Bengals (3-7-1)
The Bengals played the Patriots earlier this season. Due to that simple fact it is better for the Raiders if they lose this game.
Ravens (6-5) over Dolphins (7-4)
In the battle of the Ravens and Steelers for the AFC North title Raiders fans would widely select the Ravens as the lesser of the two evils. Baltimore will need every win they can muster in that tight race. Should Oakland slip up and lose the AFC West crown, the Dolphins are a team that could take advantage and overtake them in the wildcard race. This is not a risk we need to take.
Bears (2-9) over 49ers (1-10)
There isn’t much here to worry about. This selection is for the local Oakland fans who feel a rivalry with the 49ers that the standings and schedule do not.
Giants (8-3) over Steelers (6-5)
The Steelers are classic rivals of Oakland’s. Their loss is always a Raider victory. The Giants on the other hand are the only team that stands a realistic chance of overtaking the Cowboys in the NFC. They beat them once and have a chance to do so again. Their margin of error is slim. The Giants overtaking the Cowboys wouldn’t just be satisfying to every self respecting NFL fan who can’t stand the “Americas Team” label. It would remove the MVP voters from their jock. Carr’s chances to be named the MVP of the NFL would increase substantially.
Redskins (6-4-1) over Cardinals (4-6-1)
The Patriots play the NFC West this season. Therefore the Arizona Retirement Home For Ex-Raiders must go down. Sorry, not sorry, Carson.
Buccaneers (6-5) over Chargers (5-6)
A Tampa Bay win helps the Raiders slightly. A Chargers loss simply brings a smile to our faces. Their chances of a playoff birth are slim, but why feed them? Starve them out.
Panthers (4-7) over Seahawks (7-3-1)
The Raiders play the NFC South. The Patriots play the NFC West. Plus as ex-division rivals the Seahawks and Raiders still hold some animosity as fanbases. Especially for Raider fans in the Northwest.
Colts (5-6) over Jets (3-8)
This is another basic play for the fourth and fifth tiebreaker. On paper this looks like a terrible Monday Night Football game that ESPN would love to flex out of if they had the chance. In reality that paper has a damn good point.
Worst Case Scenario
The Raiders drop their game to the Bills while the Chiefs, Patriots, Broncos, and Dolphins all cruise to victories. Oakland not only falls a game behind the Patriots, they fall in the division standings as the Chiefs own the tiebreaker. The Raiders sit as the fifth seed in the playoffs with the Broncos and Dolphins one game behind and a huge game in Kansas City looming for Thursday.
Best Case Scenario
The Raiders drive Buffalo to playoff extinction while the Chiefs, Patriots, Broncos, and Dolphins all lose. The Raiders earn a one game lead in the conference and a two game lead in the division. The Raiders would have the safety to lose the game at Arrowhead and keep their division lead secure. The Autumn Wind takes hold of the sails, seeking championship treasure.
And of course GO RAIDERS!
Written by: RediaR