Week 15: Everything You Need to Know (and then some)

2020 Playoff Pontificator pt. II

Ok, I’m not sure why I decided to waste several hours of my life exploring and then writing up so much detailed information regarding Raider playoff possibilities after such a stinker of a game, but you, the blogue’sters will be the beneficiaries of such nonsense.

With the firing of PGTits©, many of us have some newfound hope that our atrocious defense can improve to the level of “just plain bad”. While the gut-wrenching loss by the Browns on Monday didn’t help our chances, if Marinelli can remove some of the defensive stench, and we can get back to having a consistently potent offense, just maybe we can get on a roll down the stretch.

Well, that’s what I am telling myself and it’s the justification I’m going with for burning up multiple hours on all of this, potentially for no good reason at all, lol.


Ok, with that preamble behind us, let’s get down to business. Below, broken down in painful detail, you will find specifics related to what it will take for this team to get into the dance. The range of records, somewhat surprisingly, still includes an 8-8 pathway and goes all the way up to 10-6. As these possibilities “disappear” going forward (e.g. we win our 9th game, we lose one along the way, team X that needed to lose won instead, etc.) I’ll eliminate those specific pathways as they become moot in subsequent Pontifications.

Going through this convoluted matrix now (with 3 games still left on our docket) made this a much (much) more complicated exercise than I would have liked. However, on the flip side, at least now I’m “done” with all the heavy Pontificator lifting for the rest of the season. From here on out, I’ll put together a small write-up that updates our situation and get it to Kenny early in the week so he can publish it well before the weekend.

For this week, the specific nuggets you may find interesting include the fact that a very unlikely but non-zero possibility exists for the team to get in at 8-8. I figured that door had officially shut a while ago. Well, it hasn’t. You can find out more about this moonshot by visiting section “VI” at the very bottom of this post.

The second thing that surprised me is a bit of a quirk that has something do with the fact that Seeds #5 and #6 are pretty unattainable at this point for the Raiders. Better still, its something we might be able to exploit. While to some, it might be disappointing that Seed #7 is our ceiling, there very well could be a nice silver (and black) Christmas lining in play.

As noted in Section “II” below, if we can win our next 2 games to go 9-6, there’s a chance we could clinch Seed #7 before kickoff in Denver. If the stars can line up for us, JG would be able to rest all or some of our key players in Week 17. We essentially would get a bye week before the playoffs begin. This would be a huge advantage for the team from a health and game planning standpoint. It’s also something that a low seed wild card team rarely would be in position to take advantage of. Had the Browns won last night this would have been far more likely than it is today. Still, it’s not impossible.

The last oddity includes something the Raiders rarely ever get. Help from the NFL Tiebreaker gods. What am I talking about? Well, let’s just say that all 10-6 and 9-7 records are not created equally. Intuitively, one would think that head-to-head losses with the Colts, Patriots, (and possibly Dolphins) should equate to big dings when it comes time setting the playoff pecking order. While that is very true for any 2-way ties we may encounter with the teams that beat us, it’s very much not true once we get into the machinations of a three-way tie.

Why? Well, that’s where the intricacies of complicated tie-breakers come into play. Unless all teams have played each other, the next rule on the NFL’s list is Conference record. And here, somewhat shockingly, the normally snake-bitten Raiders jump to the front of the line. If the Colts match our 10-6 record it won’t matter that we lost to them.

What about the Titans and Ravens? Nope, we still slide by them too (in a two or three way scenario) thanks to either a better Conference record, strength of victory or strength of schedule. As it turns out, if we go 10-6 and it’s only a two-way tie, we bypass all teams (not named the Colts). I’ve been doing this since before I could grow facial hair and trust me, things being this favorable to us is rare, amazing stuff. I credit 2020. Something had to (eventually) go right!

Well, what about logjams at 9-7? As before, if it’s only a two team tie-up then head to head would apply. For Baltimore, we win a two-way at 9-7 (Conference record) and for Tennessee we win as well, so long as the Raiders defeat Denver. (This added wrinkle about Denver is because we would lose to the Titans on common opponents if Denver wins in week 17.) As for 3-way ties at 9-7, the LVR jump everyone save for the Patriots and Tennessee (again, only if we lose to Denver in January).

If I haven’t lost you on the convolutions yet, hang on for some more. As noted above, we could essentially ‘eradicate’ the effects of our loss to the Colts at 10-6 or 9-7 of we can somehow corral a third team into the melee with the same record.

What about Miami? What if we beat LAC and Denver but lose to the Dolphins? On its face, a loss to Miami, even if we win this Thursday should, by all reasonable logic, end of our season since that would give the Dolphins their 9th win. Not so fast. Just as before, so long as another AFC team (not named the Patriots) joins Miami and the Raiders at 9-7, we would get in.

So, the longwinded takeaway here is that despite losing to the Colts (and maybe Miami), thanks to the magic of NFL tiebreakers, we can effectively neutralize the impact of said head-to-head losses, and still jump these teams if other AFC teams give us a small helping hand. 🙂

I hope my legwork here (and below) gives you some new hope. If our defense can improve on the margins, maybe, just maybe, we can pull it together and sneak our way in. And once in, all bets are where anything can happen.

Stay well and be happy!

-TRF 

Important note about the content below…

The playoff scenario “examples” shown for the Raiders at 9-7 is a mere sampling. With so many teams still at 9 wins or less, capturing all possibilities would create the longest post in blogue history. Sections III, IV and V below are simply singular examples of how the Raiders could make the playoffs (at 9-7) even with another loss versus LAC, MIA or DEN.   Suffice it to say there are many combinations of playoff possible still on the table at 9-7 with three games to go. On the flip side, the specific details associated with how we get in at 10-6 (Section “I”) and 8-8 (Section “VI”) are fully inclusive. If that’s our pathway in, everything noted in those two sections will have to come to fruition in some way or another.


I. LV Secures a WC Seed @ 10-6:

  1. LV beats LAC, MIA, @DEN
  2. BAL loses 1 of 3: JAX (Wk15) NYG (Wk16) @CIN (Wk17) OR

CLE loses 2 of 3: @NYG (Wk15) @NYJ (Wk16) PIT (Wk17) OR

TENN loses 2 of 3: DET (Wk15) @GB (Wk16) @TEX (Wk17) OR

IND loses 2 of 3: TEX (Wk15) @PIT (Wk16) JAX (Wk17) AND another WC contender finishes at 10-6 (Wk17) OR

IND loses 3 of 3: TEX (Wk15) @PIT (Wk16) JAX (Wk17)


II. A Weird One-Off Quirk…

LVR clinch a WC seed (post Wk16 OR before kickoff+ Wk17) @ 9-6:

  1. LV beats LAC (Wk15) AND MIA (Wk16 Sat)
  2. BAL loses 2 of 3: JAX (Wk15) NYG (Wk16) @CIN (Wk17)
  3. MIA* loses 1 out of 2: NE (Wk15) @BUF (Wk17)
  4. NE* loses 1 out of 3: @MIA (Wk15) BUF (Wk16 Mon) Jets (Wk17)

+Note: Securing seed 5 or 6 is highly unlikely at this point. Therefore, under this very specific and exclusive scenario, the LVR could potentially rest key players @Denver in Week 17. It is worth repeating that is the ONLY way the LVR could clinch a playoff spot before kickoff in Denver in week 17.

*Note: Since NE plays MIA and LV only requires 1 loss from each team, it is guaranteed that either NE or MIA will be eliminated (assuming no tie).


III. EXAMPLE: (KC, PITT, BUF, TENN, IND, CLE all make postseason)

LVR clinch a WC Seed @ 9-7 (that includes a loss to LAC):

  1. LV beats MIA (Wk16 Sat) AND @DEN (Wk17)
  2. BAL loses 2 of 3: JAX (Wk15); NYG (Wk 16); @CIN (Wk17)
  3. MIA* loses 1 out of 2: NE (Wk15); @BUF (Wk 17)
  4. NE* loses 1 out of 3: @MIA (Wk15); BUF (Wk16 Mon); Jets (Wk17)

 *Note: Since NE plays MIA and LV only requires 1 loss from each team, it is guaranteed that either NE or MIA will be eliminated (assuming no tie).


IV. EXAMPLE: (KC, PITT, BUF, TENN, IND, CLE all make postseason)

LVR clinch a WC Seed @ 9-7 (that includes a loss @DEN):

  1. LV beats LAC (Wk15) AND MIA (Wk16 Sat)
  2. BAL loses 2 of 3: JAX (Wk15); NYG (Wk 16); @CIN (Wk17)
  3. MIA* loses 1 out of 2: NE (Wk15); @BUF (Wk17)
  4. NE* loses 1 out of 3: @MIA (Wk15); BUF (Wk16 Mon); Jets (Wk17)

 *Note: Since NE plays MIA and LV only requires 1 loss from each team, it is guaranteed that either NE or MIA will be eliminated (assuming no tie).


V. EXAMPLE: (KC, PITT, BUF, TENN, IND, CLE all make postseason)

LVR clinch a WC Seed @ 9-7 (that includes a loss to MIA~):

  1. LV beats LAC (Wk15) AND @DEN (Wk17)
  2. BAL (9-7) loses 2/3: JAX (Wk15) NYG (Wk16) @CIN (Wk17)
  3. NE beats MIA (Wk15)
  4. BUF beats MIA (Wk17)
  5. NE loses 1 out of 2 games: BUF (Wk16 Mon) Jets (Wk17)

~Note: The specific scenario shown above is the least complex pathway to Seed #7 (that includes a loss to Miami). It requires a 3-way tie between MIA, LV and BAL. Despite losing to MIA, LV would end up winning this three-way tie based on AFC conference record. There are additional LVR 9-7 Seed #7 (or lower) scenarios (that include a Miami loss). Each would necessitate (at least) a third 9-7 team (e.g. Browns, Tenn, Indy, NE in lieu of Bal). In the interest of time and space, we will ignore these (and the many other 9-7) potential outcomes for the time being. As we get closer to week 17 we can revisit the various possibilities that still remain.


VI. Another Weird One-Off Quirk…

LVR clinch WC Seed 7 @ 8-8 (that must include a win over MIA~):

  1. LV beats MIA (Wk16 Sat)
  2. BAL (8-8) loses out: JAX (Wk15) NYG (Wk16) @CIN (Wk17)
  3. MIA (8-8) loses @NE (Wk15) @BUF (Wk17)
  4. NE (7-9) loses to BUF (Wk16 Mon); Jets (Wk17) to finish 7-9
  5. DEN loses to BUF (Wk15) OR @LAC (Wk16) and finishes 7-9 or worse

~Note: The ONLY way this is possible is with a win over MIA since losing to Miami would give them 9 wins.