The Oakland Raiders can stay in the playoff race this Sunday, but the only real focus should be finally putting one back in the win column.
Yes, the Oakland Raiders are still in the playoff hunt, which is incredible considering they have not won a game since the middle of November. Since beating the Cincinnati Bengals at home on November 17, completing a three-game home winning streak, the Silver and Black have looked like one of the worst teams in the league.
First came an embarrassing loss to the New York Jets by 31 on the road, followed by another road clunker against the Kansas City Chiefs by 31 points. Heading back home, the Raiders would play host to two AFC South teams in the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, losing both, including the final home game inside the Coliseum.
It seems like a distance memory that the Raiders went into Kansas City with a shot at the division lead, but here we are, a 6-4 record has turned to 6-8, and the Raiders are on the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention. With a win on Sunday, the Raiders can push their hopes to Week 17, but they are going to need a lot of help.
In fact, with a win against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Raiders will do their part, but will also need the following to happen. Baltimore has to beat Cleveland, the New York Jets beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New Orleans Saints beat the Tennessee Titans, and the Indianapolis Colts beat the Carolina Panthers.
Sounds easy right?
Well, we will know if the Raiders have a shot to advance their hopes before kickoff, as all those games are in the 10am PT slate this Sunday. Raider Nation will be hoping for a miracle, but for the Raiders team, they have to do something they have not done in a while, and that is win.
The focus this week should not be on the other teams they need to win, but on the task at hand. Forget trying to make the playoffs, or hoping for a Week 17 that means something, just go out and take care of business against a team that they should beat.
The Raiders have enough talent to go out on Sunday and beat their division rival, and complete the season sweep of the hated Chargers. In order to do so, they have to put two good halves of football together, something they have not been able to do in a very long time.
Oakland will need a great game out of Derek Carr, as star running back and Offensive Rookie of the Year front-runner Josh Jacobs will miss the game with a shoulder injury. In addition, Pro Bowl right tackle Trent Brown is also out, as he was recently played on IR.
If everything falls the Raiders way on Sunday, Week 17 is even more interesting, as the Raiders need to win again, and then get more help. In this scenario, Oakland wins, and then the Browns have to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens beat the Steelers, the Texans beat the Titans, and the Colts topple the Jags.
Ok, let us not get ahead of ourselves. In fact, the Raiders winning both their final two games is the more unlikely of any scenario. They not only have to beat the Chargers Sunday, but then go into Denver and win against the Broncos, who can be a completely different team in front of the home fans.
Making the playoffs in the final season in Oakland would be sweet, but for now, let’s just hope we put a good gameplan together, and win on Sunday. If we do, let the chips fall where they may.