Last week the Raiders six game winning streak came to an end in the bitter Kansas City cold. This week the next six game winning streak hopefully begins.
Where We Stand
At 10-3 the Raiders sit in second place in the AFC West behind the 10-3 Chiefs; losing the head-to-head tiebreaker. Oakland is currently the top wildcard and the 5th seed in the AFC playoffs. If the Raiders win they clinch a playoff spot. If they lose or tie, they may still clinch a playoff spot depending on the results of the rest of the games. With a win and some help the Raiders could finish this week in control of their own path to the #1 seed in the AFC yet again. Let’s break it all down.
Jets(4-9) over Dolphins(8-5)
In all of the scenarios where Oakland ties or loses and still clinches a playoff spot this week, the Dolphins must fall. Should these two clubs finish tied in the standings at the end of the season, whether at 11-5, 10-6, or some convoluted mess with tied games, the Raiders hold the advantage due to a better win percentage in common games. However, a tie between three or more teams could push the Raiders out in the right combinations. A Miami loss here would do wonders to ease the worries of the pessimists. That said, this Dolphins team doesn’t instil the same level of fear as as some others in the playoff race. If you want to play it safe, root for the Jets on Saturday. If your desire is give the Dolphins a wildcard spot over Denver or a team from the North, you should root for them.
Packers(7-6) over Bears(3-10)
Why let the Bears win and move one step closer to giving the Chargers a higher draft position?
Bills(6-7) over Browns(0-13)
With seven losses the Bills cannot pass the Raiders in the standings even though they are alive in the playoff race. The benefit of this choice comes from their ability to kick the Broncos off the ledge if the rest of the wildcard race can’t manage it themselves. The Bills would benefit the Raiders’ strength of victory too, but that tiebreaker has become mostly irrelevant to the Raiders as the season nears a close. Most potential ties at the end of the season will be solved with earlier tiebreakers. One with New England could come down to strength of victory, but the Bills’ wins cancel out between these two teams due to both having one win over Buffalo.
Eagles(5-8) over Ravens(7-6)
One other piece to the Raiders’ “back into a playoff clinch” scenario is a Ravens loss. If the Ravens lose or tie to the Eagles, the Steelers can no longer pass the Raiders in the wildcard race. Pittsburgh would be guaranteed the AFC North title or a lower record than the Raiders. This is very helpful as the Steelers will own a better conference record than the Raiders if the two teams are in lockstep overall.
Titans(7-6) over Chiefs(10-3)
The readers who have the clinch scenarios memorized or in front of them might be initiating their meltdown sequence right about now. If the Raiders lose, the Chiefs earning a victory here is a necessary component to clinching the playoffs this week. Why that is ultimately comes down to potential three team ties at the end. I will spare you the graphic details of that tangled, mathematical, spiderweb. Some who enter that maze never come out.
That is a problem for the pessimist. The optimist, pragmatist, and realist follow this path. If The Raiders win and the Chiefs lose, Oakland reclaims the top spot in the AFC West and a first round bye. Even if the Raiders lose Kansas City’s slim chances at earning the #1 seed in the AFC take a huge hit. If the Raiders lose and don’t clinch this week, the odds of the right combination of games in the next two weeks keeping the Raiders out is very slim. Remember, one more Raiders win and they are in also. The upside of the Chiefs taking a loss here outweighs the potential risks.
Bengals(5-7-1) over Steelers(8-5)
If the Ravens don’t lose, a Steelers loss is another option for the clinch scenarios to come through. With a game against the Ravens still to come, a loss here would guarantee Pittsburgh would either win the AFC North or finish with a worse record than the Raiders.
Giants(9-4) over Lions(9-4)
It’s possible that after an 11-1 start to the season, the Cowboys could finish as a wildcard team behind the Giants in the NFC East. Embrace the dark side, Raider Nation.
Colts(6-7) over Vikings(7-6)
If the Raiders can defeat the Colts next week, this win for Indianapolis would help the Raiders boost their strength of victory lead over the Patriots if that became relevant once more.
Jaguars(2-11) over Texans(7-6)
In a similar vein to the Colts, a Jaguars victory would help with strength of victory against the Patriots. While the Raiders have also defeated the Texans, it would be a wash in this category as the Patriots have also slayed that wounded dragon.
Saints(5-8) over Cardinals(5-7-1)
Strength of victory yet again. Sorry, not sorry, Palmer.
Falcons(8-5) over 49ers(1-12)
Abandon all hope, ye who are superstitious about Super Bowl talk.
It is feasible that the Raiders could win out in the regular season and revenge all of their 2016 losses in the postseason starting with a third battle with Kansas City and finishing with a second chance against the Falcons in the Super Bowl. A Falcons win over the 49ers makes that just a little bit more possible.
Broncos(8-5) over Patriots(11-2)
The pessimists are yet again pulling out any hair they have left. A Denver loss is another component to some “back in” scenarios. They would officially be out of the running for the division title and no longer a problem for the Raiders in the playoff race. However, a Patriots loss here would put the Raiders one step closer to the #1 seed in the AFC if Oakland can reclaim the West. A Patriots loss against the Broncos would clinch the common opponents tiebreaker in favor of the Raiders. Currently when the Raiders and Patriots match up in this category, Oakland sits at 4-0 and New England at 3-1 with both teams facing Denver in the closing weeks as the final common game.
Buccaneers(8-5) over Cowboys(11-2)
If the Patriots beat the Broncos, the Raiders lose to the Broncos and the two teams still end up tied at the end of the season as division winners, the strength of victory tiebreaker is unleashed. A Tampa Bay win helps the Raiders in this scenario. This result also knocks the Cowboys down one more rung on the hype ladder and closer to a fall to a wildcard.
Panthers(5-8) over Redskins(7-5-1)
Monday night’s game could help with strength of victory too, but at that point it may not mean anything anymore. If the Panthers put enough of a whoppin’ on the Redskins, Washington General Manager Scot McCloughan might cut another future Raider contributor.
Thanks again for Riley and Amerson, Scot!
Worst Case Scenario
The Raiders lose in their home away from home in San Diego. The Dolphins defeat the Jets and the Steelers and Ravens both pick up victories keeping alive the slim chance that the Raiders don’t make the playoffs. Kansas City puts a division title just about out of sight and Denver closes the gap in the wildcard race.
Best Case Scenario
The Raiders win in front of a crowd of 72% Raider fans in San Diego and clinch a playoff birth for the first time since the invention of breath strips and the Roomba. For the second week in a row the Titans take down a Raiders division foe, putting the AFC West back in control of the Raiders. Denver does something worthwhile for once and defeat the Patriots. The Raiders end the week as the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs, able to control their path the rest of the way.
And of course GO RAIDERS!
Written by: RediaR