Oakland Raiders: To Be or Not to Be in the Playoffs

Honor Warren Wells TheTorchSenior Writer IIFebruary 20, 2012

Sometimes it makes sense to look at historical data and to calculate probabilities in order to get a feel for a situation. After looking at 21 selected years when the Oakland Raiders went to the playoffs, the following observations can be made:

1. The Oakland Raiders made it to the playoffs only two times when their total wins were eight, in 1970 and 1982.

2. Here is a table showing probabilities for two different eras.

        Overall (21)        from 1978 (11)
Tot. Wins/Frequency/Probability    from 1978    Probability
11    5      0.23                                3                  0.27
12    7      0.33                                4                  0.36
10    3      0.14                                2                  0.18
9      2      0.09                                1                  0.09
8      2      0.09                                1                  0.09

As you can see in the chart, the Oakland Raiders need to have more than eight or nine wins in order to secure a place in the playoffs. The stronger probabilities occur for ten wins or more.

3. The Oakland Raiders have gone to the playoffs 21 times.

4. Since 1978 the Oakland Raiders have gone to the playoffs 11 times.


Based on the research of the historical data, the Oakland Raiders need to win nine or more games in order to make it to the playoffs. The probability of making it to the playoff, using these parameters, is above 50 percent if the total wins is near or above nine wins.

Based on this data, the chances of getting to the playoffs with only eight wins is about .09. This means that if a researcher (or gambler) has studied the historical data for the 21 times the Raiders have made it to the playoffs, they would have realized that it was not a strong probability that the Raiders would have made it in 2011.


The Oakland Raiders need to aim for a minimum 10-6 season in 2012. Ideally, they should attempt to get a 13-3, but we should remember that the Oakland Raiders have never had a 13 win season since 1978. The Raiders, however, did have two 13-1 seasons when there were only 14 games in the regular season.

Let's hope this research inspires a discussion of the chances of the Oakland Raiders making the playoffs in 2012. Of course, this limited analysis should be expanded to the context of the impact of the new staff and new talent on the roster and many other variables.

Go Raiders!