The Raiders are now 7-4, have the lead in the AFC West standings, and have yet to play a game at full strength this season. So really, the Raiders getting into the postseason this year is more about the Raiders than anything.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Raiders are in the driver's seat to win the AFC West. Well actually, I can believe it because the talent on the team is unbelievable, and head coach Hue Jackson showed last year as an offensive coordinator, that he knew which buttons to press.
However, there are some scenarios that would help them not only get in, but do some damage in the playoffs.
Turn the page to see what they are.
Many look at the Minnesota Vikings game on Sunday as an automatic win for the Denver Broncos. But if you think about it, the Vikings are tough against the run, and run the ball very well themselves with Adrian Peterson.
We'll see about the Vikings but the Bears, Patriot and Bills will likely beat the Broncos. The Bears defense will be too tough for the Broncos and the Bills aren't much, but they are near impossible to beat at home.
We don't even need to talk about the Patriots.
The Broncos could very well lose four in a row.
Cornerback Chris Johnson started the season on hobble status after having surgery on his groin during camp. It showed in his play, as he was constantly picked on early in the season—especially against the Buffalo Bills.
Johnson then got to the point that he just couldn't play anymore and he's been out for a couple of months since. Johnson wasn't activated for Sunday, but it's a good sign that he did some things in practice last week.
So it's possible that he will soon be back as the same guy who was fifth in the NFL burn percentage last year.
Jacoby Ford is a dynamic playmaker in the Raiders offense that has been out with a foot sprain. You can see his chemistry with Carson Palmer really coming to be in the Broncos and San Diego Chargers games, before coming out of the Chargers game injured.
Ford isn't just a dynamic playmaker at receiver, he is also among the most dangerous kick-return men in the NFL. Therefore, he helps Palmer before he gets on the field as well as when he is on the field.
Ford also helps take the eighth man out of the box to stop the Raiders running game.
Denarius Moore is another dynamic playmaker from the receiver position who looks like he'll be coming back soon. He also has a foot sprain and according to Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Gate, he is closer to coming back than Ford is.
That is some good news to see the rookie standout coming back with Ford soon thereafter. You can put that together with Louis Murphy, who's finally starting to hit his stride this year.
This receiver corps will be scary going into the playoffs healthy.
Rolando McClain was drafted in the first round in 2010 to help the Raiders stop the run. For those of you who think he hasn't done that, go take another look at the second Broncos game when he didn't play.
The Broncos gutted the Raiders with 300 yards rushing—making it look like the University of Alabama vs Navy. McClain is not only a physical presence in there, but he lines up the defense according to the offensive formation and point players to their assignment.
McClain did re-aggravate his ankle injury Sunday but he did go back into the game. The Raiders will need McClain to play in these cold-weather games as running the ball will start to have more value.
Richard Seymour has been a beast as usual when healthy, as he is second in the league in sacks at the defensive tackle position. He actually had the league lead in sacks until he ended up with a knee injury that limited him for a few games.
After playing sparingly in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago, Seymour looked like he had the pep back in his step Sunday. He had a sack against the Bears and consistently pushed the pocket back in the quarterback's face.
Having Seymour's physical presence and leadership will be big for the Raiders.
The most dynamic playmaker on the Raiders team is Darren McFadden, and he hasn't played in six weeks—counting the bye. Don't get me wrong, I love Michael Bush, who's done well in his stead, but McFadden is, for me, the most dynamic.
Also according to Tafur, McFadden worked out light today and he's looking to come back in a couple of more weeks.
Having McFadden means you can score at anytime from anywhere on the field. This will force teams to stack the box—leaving things open for Ford, Moore and Murphy to hit them up top.
With Palmer connecting on his deep balls, it will be impossible to stop the Raiders offense. You simply can't stop the run and the deep ball at the same time, and Palmer will check things at the line accordingly.
Let's not forget the check-downs and screens that McFadden can take to the house if the defense is preoccupied with the deep ball. He can also break the formation and spit out wide, forcing a linebacker to cover him.
Last but not least, he picks up the blitz well, and Palmer will appreciate that.
In case you haven't noticed, all the Raiders need to do is get healthy to go to the playoffs this year. The Broncos are going to hit their skid soon and if the don't they will at least lose to New England and Buffalo on the road.
The only game that I'm that worried about for the Raiders is the Green Bay Packers, and I'm not scared of them with a healthy Raiders team. Ford and Moore will be back to combine with Murphy to go against the Packers' No. 31 ranked pass defense.
McFadden will be back to combine with Bush against the No. 13 ranked run defense. Now I can't deny the greatness of Aaron Rodgers but the Raiders will have Johnson back to go with Routt, Lito Sheppard and an improved Demarcus Van Dyke to cover Rodgers' receivers.
Let's not forget the pass-rush the Raiders bring with Seymour and Tommy Kelly up the middle. Then you have Kamerion Wimbley bringing the heat of the edge.
I really like this Raiders team to go strong into the playoffs.