Let’s be honest. If the Oakland Raiders want to be playing in the postseason then their only chance will be to win the AFC West.
So, just how do the Raiders fare in their quest? Let’s look at the schedule.
First things first. This team has to handle its business. That is much easier said than done when you look at the road ahead. This Sunday’s swing through Jacksonville is a straight up elimination game. Make no mistake; this is March Madness for the Silver and Black. They have to win to stay alive.
The Jaguars are in the same ship as the Raiders. They’re currently sitting in the driver’s seat in first place but could fall out of the playoff picture all together if they lose their grip on the division. While Oakland is no longer looking down on their AFC West rivals, they’re still a perfect 4-0 and would own any divisional tie breaker should it come down to that.
Which brings us to the team that occupies the top spot in the West – the Kansas City Chiefs.
Todd Haley gets a lot of respect for what he’s done in a short period of time. People tend to forget that it was the Chiefs – not the Raiders – that have been propping up the West the last few years. These Chiefs are hungry and humble, a reflection of their fiery coach.
From here out the Chiefs are in control. This Sunday they’ll travel to San Diego where the dejected Chargers await. A win in SoCal would have the Chiefs sitting pretty for the remainder of the season. With a stop in St. Louis and then a home date against Tennessee, the road to the postseason isn’t smooth but it’s certainly manageable for KC.
As for those underachieving Chargers, well, their hopes could come crashing down this weekend if they don’t defend Jack Murphy…err…whatever Comm Stadium. A loss to the Chiefs would all but end San Diego’s hopes and could close to the door on the Norv Turner error.
Beyond Sunday’s elimination clash, the Dolts have one more home date against the 49ers before taking to the road to face Cincinnati and Denver to close the season.
This is one Sunday in which Raider Nation could find itself actually rooting for the Chargers. Believe it or not, the Raiders’ playoff hopes could rest squarely on the Chargers and how they fare against the Chiefs.
Oakland’s schedule isn’t nearly as inviting as their divisional foes. After Jacksonville the Raiders host the Broncos and the Colts. After destroying the Donkeys earlier in the season, the Raiders must keep the same intensity going into the rematch. Beyond Denver comes Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts who are also battling for their playoff lives and will be as focused as ever.
Now, if the Chiefs can find a way to lose at least two of their next four and the Raiders can remain perfect, it would set the stage for a Raiders-Chiefs clash of epic proportions. Both teams square off on the final day of the season in Arrowhead with the potential for AFC West supremacy on the line.
The odds are long but this is not impossible. Yes, the Raiders will need help along the way. But they’ve got their destiny in their own hands. Stay perfect in the division and lose no more than once the rest of the year, they’ll have a chance. Again, it’s a slim chance but it beats planning for the draft this time of year.