TRF’s Week 16 Playoff Pontificator©

Word to your collective Mothers on this special Holiday Edition of TRF’s Playoff Pontificator!

As some of you may have heard or read, Tuck (and Family of Tuck©) were thwarted by Mother Nature once again this past weekend.  The first time was in Oakland during the October Deluge which ended in a soggy, disheartening loss to the Chiefs.  This time, I couldn’t even get close to the final destination of San Diego.

Late Friday, and well into Saturday, the mile-high snow fell at a fast and furious pace.  As a result, our entire family was stranded at Denver International Airport for almost 24 hours.  While this was a personal disappointment, our resplendent team adorned in silver and black did not disappoint.

With yet another dramatic comeback win under their belt, the Oakland Raiders managed to secure their first playoff berth in 14 years.  Given that reality, many of you may be wondering why bother having any sort of Playoff Pontification this week.

Well, I’m here to tell you that that type of wondering would be wrong; there is plenty to Pontificate on!

In this Edition, I’ll dive into exploring our possible paths forward.  I will also look at how our AFC West foes are doing on the playoff front.  What they need, and how likely they are to get there.

With no further ado, lets begin by looking at our own situation as we head into week 16…

To use a baseball parlance, our magic number is two.  That is, any combination of Raider victories and KC losses totaling two gives us the Division title, a home game, and a much-coveted week off once the post season begins in January.

Right now, here are the Raiders’ odds for each of the six NFL playoff Seeds:

 Seed 1: 20%  

Obviously in this scenario the Raiders win the AFC West, which means that they met the “magic number” of 2 as it relates to KC.  In order to grab the top spot, Oakland must also win at least one game and (at least) equal the W-L record of the Patriots.  With the top seed, the Raiders would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

 Seed 2: 47%

There are several ways Oakland can get to the magic number of 2.  One option includes winning out. In which case it won’t matter what KC does in Weeks 16 and 17.  The Raiders could also lose out and still grab the number 2 slot.  However, in that case, the Chiefs would also need to lose their remaining two games.  A record of 1-1 could also work, so long as KC follows suit (or loses both contests).

 Seed 3: 2%

There is only one way this can come to pass.  Here both Oakland and KC lose out while the Pittsburgh Steelers win their final two games.  Yeah, probably not…

 Seed 4:  0%

Not happening.  The best the AFC South Champion can do is 10-6.  We have already 11 games under our belt.

 Seed 5: 32%

After Seed 2, this is the most likely (but clearly least desirable) outcome for the Raiders.  In this case, the team doesn’t meet the magic number of 2 threshold and KC wins the West.

 Seed 6: 0%

Like Seed 4, this is impossible.  If the Steelers finish 11-5 ,they win the AFC North title.  The best that Baltimore (Pittsburgh) can do in a Wild Card slot would be 9-7 (10-6).  The Broncos can’t do any better than 10-6 at this point.  What about Miami?  Miami can finish at 11-5 but they lose to Oakland via the NFL’s number 3 Wild Card common games tiebreaker (5-0 vs. 3-2).

Well there you have it, our Seeding possibilities in a nutshell.  As the numbers show, Oakland is most likely to finish at the #2 slot, followed by #5 and then #1.  I for one would be quite content with a #2 Seeding.  The top slot would be gravy but not a deal killer if we don’t achieve home field throughout.  Besides, having NE at #1 leaves open the grand possibility of a snow rematch in Boston.  What a sweet way to finally end the “Tuck Rule Curse.”

As a Pontificator bonus, lets take a quick look at our Division rivals’ playoff situations.

Up first, KC… The thing that jumps out at you with KC is that they still can miss out on the playoffs.  Is this likely? No, of course not but looking at their remaining games (and their propensity for faceplanting at the worst possible times) it makes me wonder, just a little.

The specifics as it relates to the Chiefs playoff picture…

Week 16

 Win (vs. Den) and in

 Still in with a loss and…

 A Steelers win over the Ravens


 Week 17 (assuming they are not yet in)

 Win (at SD) and in

 If Dolphins lose at the Bills (in Week 16) then…

KC still gets in with a loss at SD and …

 A Ravens loss at the Bengals OR

A Dolphins loss vs. the Pats OR

A Steelers loss vs. the Browns


If Dolphins win at the Bills (in Week 16) then…

KC still gets in with a loss at SD and …

 A Ravens loss at the Bengals OR

A Steelers loss vs. the Browns


Denver’s situation is much more dire.

In fact, right now at 8-6, they have a 17% chance of reaching the post season.  (In comparison, the Chiefs’ odds still sit at lofty 98%.)  In addition, the Broncos’ path is rather complicated given that they are jostling with 8 other teams that could potentially take the one slot that is still open to them (Seed 6).  Capturing the Division is impossible for the Broncos.  Even slot 5 is unattainable given that they lose all tiebreakers with KC at 10-6.  Nevertheless, they are alive and their odds range from 6-8% with a record of 9-7 to as high as 51% if Denver wins out and goes 10-6.  Rather than dive into the myriad of possibilities, I’ll simply look at how Denver could get eliminated after this week’s games.  If by chance Denver’s playoff heart is still pumping come Christmas night, I will delve into their possible pathways once we have a handle on Week 16’s final outcomes.


The Playoff  Picture for Denver going into Week 16:

 The Broncos cannot clinch a berth under any circumstance…

 Denver CAN be eliminated with a loss at KC and…

 A Dolphins win vs. the Pats OR

A Ravens win at the Steelers

As awkward as it is to type, we as Raiders fans should be rooting for a Broncos win this weekend. The silver (and black) lining here is that Denver will be incredibly desperate for a win and should make life tough for the Chiefs this week.  While there is no question that watching the reigning World Champion Broncos get eliminated would be enjoyable, seeing the Chiefs hand us the Division title and a bye on a Christmas day silver (and black) platter would be even more satisfying…  Raider Santa anyone?

Even with a win in Week 16, the Broncos are still likely to find a lump of coal in their Christmas day stocking.  At best, they will almost assuredly need to beat us in Week 17 not to mention receive a significant amount of outside help just to get a seat at the playoff table.

No matter how you slice it, Raider fans are looking at a very Merry Christmas this year.  May you and yours continue to enjoy this fun-filled Raider holiday season.

Written by: Tuck Rule Fool

Edited by: Kenny Stapler

last week’s prediction poll results:

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