As the NFL season heads down the stretch run, anxious fans everywhere are familiar with their team's remaining schedule.
Some games are chalked up as gimme-wins, while others are looked at as forget-about-it losses.
A week ago, Raiders fans were crossing off the Week 14 visit to Green Bay as a sure loss. And that was okay. Oakland was 7-4, riding a three-game winning streak, a hot Michael Bush and a dangerous front seven.
The schedule suggested a move to 8-4 was probable, with a visit to the 3-8 Dolphins looming. Miami had not beaten a .500 team all season, and the Raiders were playing good football of late.
An 8-4 record and retention of the division lead would allow them to lose in Green Bay and either still lead or be tied with the Denver Broncos. Even in a tie at that point, the Raiders would be in a good position with the reeling Lions and Chargers coming to Oakland, with their only road game against the beatable Chiefs. An 11-5 finish would certainly either garner a division title or wild-card berth.
But after an embarrassing blowout loss in Miami, the Packers game this Sunday suddenly changes in nature. Fans can no longer write it off as a losable game; the Broncos are tied for the divisional lead and hold the tiebreaker. The Bengals, Titans and Jets are all tied with Oakland for the final wild-card spot, but Cincinnati and Tennessee both have a chance to win out.
The Packer game is not a "must win," but the difference between a win and a loss in Green Bay could ultimately equal the difference between a playoff berth or a narrow miss once the season is over.
After nearly falling to the New York Giants last week, Green Bay has proven that they are not shoe-ins for an undefeated season. If they are inching closer to their first loss, it is not inconceivable that the inconsistent but sometimes dominant Oakland Raiders could be the team that hands it to them.
But there are some things that must go right for a Raider win to be a real possibility.