NFL Playoff Race: Oakland Raiders Best Case Scenario in Week 12
Elias Trejo – Nov 22, 2013
It's week 12 in the NFL and the Oakland Raiders are in 8th place in the AFC and only one game back for the final playoff spot in the AFC. Before I go into what the best case scenario is for Oakland, I think we need to give a little credit to the coaching staff, Reggie McKenzie and Mark Davis. This is a team that before the season started was called, "the least talented roster in years," "Worse than the 0-16 Lions," and was the favorite to be the first pick in the 2014 NFL draft. 12 weeks into the season, I can't help but look back and say, "Damn, this team should really be 5-5 or 6-4." The Raiders have left several wins on the table, but to be in the playoff race this late in the season when nobody thought you had a chance is refreshing. Though Oakland is 4-6, the playoffs are a very realistic possibiliy for this team. Let's take a look at what needs to happen in week 12 for the Raiders to improve their chances of making the playoffs.
Steelers at Browns (1:00 PM Eastern)
In one of the first games on Sunday, the Raiders need the Steelers to beat the Browns. Oakland currently holds the tie breakers with Pittsburgh because of their head to head victory. A Steelers win would send them to 5-6 and the Browns to 4-7, making the road a little easier for the Raiders. If the Browns win, Oakland would still have the tie breaker over Cleveland, but conference record would be a tie breakers vs head to head.
Chargers at Chiefs (1:00 PM Eastern)
Here is a big division game for the AFC West. The Raiders need the Chiefs to win, which would put the Chargers in a tough spot the rest of the way. San Diego does have the benefit of playing four of their last five games at home, but a loss here would make it hard for them to make the playoffs unless they finished 5-0 in their final 5 games.
Panthers at Dolphins (1:00 PM Eastern)
The Dolphins are one of two teams ahead of the Raiders. A loss to Carolina would help the Raiders out tremendously. The Panthers defense is looking very good, and Cam Newton has their offense rolling. Miami plays the Jets twice, Steelers, Patriots and Bills to end the season. 8-8 Looks like a realistic record for Miami, but a 7-9 record for the Dolphins could help the Raiders get in.
Jets at Baltimore (1:00 PM Eastern)
This is another game for the Raiders that will end out helping them in the playoff race. Ideally the Ravens beat the Jets, who are currently in 6th place and hold the final wild card spot. If the Jets lose, they would fall behind the Raiders if Oakland wins based on conference record. If the Jets win, they would stay one game ahead of Oakland if the Raiders do win. The Raiders and the Jets play the week after Thanksgiving. That could be an elimination game for both teams.
Titans at Raiders
Here is where it gets fun. Oakland first needs to make sure they win their game at home against the Titans. If this happens, the best case scenario would be for Oakland to move up to the 6th spot. If the Jets, Browns, Dolphins and Chargers lose then Oakland will have the 6th spot IF they win. Baltimore would then move to 7th because of conference record, but would only be a half game back of the Raiders. If the Jets and/or Dolphins win Oakland would still be in 8th or could be in 7th if one of those two teams loses. Looking at the remaining schedule, it is looking more and more like 8-8 may be the magic number. The Raiders play five AFC teams in their final six games. Winning three of those wold help them out in most every tie breaker situaiton.
The Raiders can only afford to lose twice the rest of the way. They still have to play the Titans, Cowboys, Jets, Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos. The good news is that Oakland controls it's own destiny. The Dolphins, Ravens and Jets currently would be the only serious threats for the final spot. The Chargers are sitting pretty with five home games left, but they have the hardest remaining schedule left in the NFL. The final AFC Wild card spot winner could get in with either 7 or 9 wins. It's unlikely that a team will win 9, so 8 wins seems to be the most realistic magic number. Can Oakland get there?
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