AFC standings, Week 16: Raiders need a series of miracles

OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Michael Crabtree
OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 17: Michael Crabtree /

Though still technically alive to make it into the AFC playoffs as a wild card team, the Oakland Raiders will need a series of miracles to get there.

After dropping consecutive must-win games to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys, the Oakland Raiders have likely season their AFC playoff aspirations come to an end. At 6-8 with two games remaining, the Raiders cannot win the AFC West this year. The last time the Silver and Black won the AFC West, it was 2002, the last time the Raiders went to the Super Bowl.

While the playoff hopes are looking grim, the Raiders are still one of 10 teams in the AFC that have either clinched a playoff berth or could potentially do so in the final two weeks. Three teams has punched playoff tickets already in the New England Patriots, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Let’s take a look at the AFC standings entering Week 16. How is still alive and what will it inevitably take for the Raiders to reach the 2017 AFC playoffs?

AFC Standings entering Week 16

  1. y-New England Patriots (11-3)
  2. y-Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3)
  3. x-Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4)
  4. Kansas City Chiefs (8-6)
  5. Tennessee Titans (8-6)
  6. Buffalo Bills (8-6)
  7. Baltimore Ravens (8-6)
  8. Los Angeles Chargers (7-7)
  9. Oakland Raiders (6-8)
  10. Miami Dolphins (6-8)
  11. New York Jets (5-9)
  12. Cincinnati Bengals (5-9)
  13. Denver Broncos (5-9)
  14. Houston Texans (4-10)
  15. Indianapolis Colts (3-11)
  16. Cleveland Browns (0-14)

x-clinched playoff berth
y-clinched division title

By beating the Steelers (11-3) on Sunday afternoon in Week 15, the Patriots (11-3) control the No. 1 seed in the AFC. New England won its ninth straight AFC East division title with that controversial win on the road over Pittsburgh. Though the Steelers are in line for first-round bye as the projected No. 2 seed, it looks like the path to Minneapolis out of the AFC will run through Foxborough.

While it has been a rough year for teams like the Raiders, it has been a great year in Duval County. The Jaguars (10-4) clinched their first playoff berth in over a decade. Jacksonville will win the AFC South with one more win in the final two weeks. The Jaguars have not hosted a home playoff game since 1999. They are very much in line to get the No. 3 seed in the AFC, possibly a first-round bye if New England or Pittsburgh slip up.

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Kansas City (8-6) has the leg on the Los Angeles Chargers (7-7) in the AFC West. The Chiefs completed the season sweep of Los Angeles in Week 15. Oakland has been eliminated from winning the AFC West. Barring an unforeseen collapse, this is Kansas City’s division for the second year in a row.

The two teams that would be getting in as wild card teams in the AFC are the Tennessee Titans (8-6) and the Buffalo Bills (8-6). Tennessee edges out Buffalo for the No. 5 spot because of a better conference record. Buffalo beats out the Baltimore Ravens (8-6) for the No. 6 seed because of a better strength of victory.

The four other teams that are still alive in the AFC wild card race are Baltimore, Los Angeles, Oakland and the Miami Dolphins (6-8). Baltimore is the most likely candidate of this quartet to get in, as the Ravens can get to 10-6 by winning out. Los Angeles could get in at 9-7, but probably not at 8-8. Oakland and Miami has close to no shot of getting in.

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For the Raiders to get in, they will need a series of late-season miracles to happen. Oakland needs to beat the Philadelphia Eagles (12-2) and the Chargers on the road in the final two weeks for any of that to happen.

Essentially, they need to be in a four-team tie with Buffalo, Miami and Tennessee to get in as a No. 6 seed. Technically, the Raiders could get in if they are in a five-way tie at 8-8 with those three teams and the Chargers, but absolutely not the Ravens.

Basically, if the Ravens win one of their final two games against the Indianapolis Colts or the Cincinnati Bengals, that’s it for the Raiders’ playoff chances. Oakland could be eliminated from playoff contention before the Raiders even wake up on Christmas Eve morning. Baltimore plays Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon for the first game of the week.

Next: 5 takeaways from Raiders' loss to Cowboys in Week 15

So Raider Nation needs to believe in Chuck Pagano’s awful 3-11 Colts to keep the dream alive on Saturday afternoon. You’re better off doing some last-minute Christmas shopping. Expect the Raiders to join these six teams that have already been eliminated from playoff contention before Christmas Eve: New York Jets (5-9), Bengals (5-9), Denver Broncos (5-9), Houston Texans (4-10), Colts (3-11), Cleveland Browns (0-14).