The Oakland Raiders lost a heartbreaker in Jacksonville last Sunday and failed to pick up a game on the Kansas City Chiefs. They also gave the game back that they took from the Chargers the week before.
The Raiders now need to win out and depend on the Chiefs and the December-dominant Chargers to lose to get in the playoffs. That doesn't look too good for the Silver and Black so it's time to play for next year.
You never play for next year until you are mathematically out of the playoff picture. Plus, there is still a great chance that the Raiders can get in the playoffs this season.
Turn the page to see how great a chance they have.
The last article I wrote about the Raiders playoff chances, I went out there a little bit to say that this young, inconsistent Raider team can win four games in a row.
Winning three games in a row is absolutely possible because the Raiders have done so this year. The Jacksonville Jaguars turned out to be more physical than I thought, but that won't be the case in the next three games.
The Indianapolis Colt's lack of physicality has them as beatable as they ever were right now. I can't see the Broncos reversing a 59-14 home loss in Oakland, but I'm guessing the game will be a little closer.
The Raiders have also beaten the Chiefs earlier in the year.
Quarterback Jason Campbell has been very efficient as of late. He has posted quarterback ratings of 105 and 127.6 in his last two games.
He threw for 324 yards and two scores with no interceptions last Sunday. Campbell is starting to learn his new teammates and has started to take his leadership role with the team.
Since Campbell has started to "cut it lose" and make plays out of the pocket, the coaching staff has started to learn him. Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is now dialing up designed roll outs to take advantage of Campbell's mobility.
Campbell is no longer waiting on Jackson to get him out of the pocket as he was earlier this season. He will pull the ball down and run or throw from out of the pocket when the rush is heavy now.
He is starting to look like that guy.
After not getting a chance to do much for two games, Darren McFadden is back to his game-breaking self. He's had 336 total yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns in his last two ball games.
The Raiders are 5-2 when McFadden has over 100 total yards in a game.
He isn't on the injury report so he will have a chance to make it happen down the stretch.
Zach Miller looks to be back from his plantar fasciitis.
He had four chain moving catches for 68 yards on Sunday.
He wasn't able to do much in the few weeks prior to that so it is a good sign to see him involved. I fully expect Miller to continue moving the chains during this three game stretch.
If opposing defenses try to take Miller away, McFadden and fullback Marcel Reece will benefit in the passing game.
Chaz Schilens hasn't caught a pass yet since coming back from his injuries, but he's playing. He's practicing every practice now and I'm sure we're going to see him and Campbell develop some chemistry.
Schilens is another dependable pair of hands that the Raiders need on third down. He's also a deep threat that coverage has to be shifted toward.
His presence open up things for Miller and others.
But I'm expecting him to start making some plays soon too.
Louis Murphy was on pace for his first 1,000 yard season before injuring his shoulder. After trying ineffectively to play with his bum shoulder, he ended up with a bruised lung.
Last Sunday, Murphy looked as if he is getting back on the same page as Campbell with six catches for 59 yards. One of those catches was for an eight yard touchdown in the second quarter.
It's nice to see Murphy getting back in stride down the stretch.
Raider head coach Tom Cable told the media that the tendinitis in Rolando McClain's foot is feeling much better. He did not say whether or not he would play but "feeling much better" is definitely a good sign.
I'm thinking the young man is going to play.
The Raider defense (especially against the run) is a much better unit with McClain in the lineup. The week off should have been enough to get McClain through the next three games.
The Raiders need their No. 1 pick.
His big hits create momentum.
A few days ago, Richard Seymour said, "After ten games, the rookies are no longer rookies." He must have been thinking of his protege Lamarr Houston when he said that.
Houston has been putting nonstop pressure on the quarterback as of late. He has also held up his end of the deal against the run.
I look for Houston to get even better in these last three games.
Antonio Gates has a pretty serious case of plantar fasciitis. There has been some speculation that Gates could miss the rest of the regular season.
While it would be nice for the Chargers to rest Gates and have him for the playoffs, they may need him to get in. They play against a rising 49ers team that is physical and the Chargers don't like that.
The talented Bengals aren't very good this year, but can spoil.
After Matt Cassel's emergency appendectomy last week, it's a wonder if and when he will play again this year. I don't see how they would have beaten the Chargers last Sunday, but the Chiefs are better with Cassell in there.
They go to St. Louis where the Rams are 4-2 this season on Sunday. If Cassel does play, you just don't know how effective he will be after getting his mid section cut on a week ago.
Then they face Chris Johnson and Randy Moss the week after.
The Titans aren't playing like juggernauts, but their talent can come together at any time.
Should the Raiders win out with the Chiefs and Chargers losing one, Week 17 will be for all the marbles. The Oakland Raider-Kansas City Chief rivalry will truly be reborn as the game means everything.
Arrowhead will be as loud as it's ever been.
There will at least be three fights breaking out on that day.
What are the Raider's chances?
They won at Arrowhead the last two times they've played there.