NFL Playoff Scenarios: Oakland Raiders Still Have Hope for Postseason Bid

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterDecember 12, 2011

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Oakland Raiders looks on during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Scott Boehm/Getty Images

As you may have noticed, the Oakland Raiders have fallen on some hard times in the last two weeks.

There's no point in denying the reality of the situation. The Raiders' losses in the last two weeks have been of the really bad variety, and their postseason hopes have taken a serious hit as a result.

And if we're being honest, the Silver and Black don't look like a playoff team. That they're banged up is one thing, but there is something to be said about the fact that they never stood a chance against either the Miami Dolphins or Green Bay Packers. The Raiders fully deserved to lose both games.

As of right now, the Raiders are looking up at a lot of teams in the AFC playoff picture. The Denver Broncos have first place in the AFC West all to themselves, and the Raiders are pretty low in the pecking order in teams looking to earn the AFC's second wild-card berth. Take a look at ESPN, and you'll see that the New York Jets currently have it in their grasp, with the Tennessee Titans and Cincinnati Bengals ahead of the Raiders in line because of tiebreakers.

However, not all hope is lost. The Raiders have a pretty favorable schedule in the final three weeks of the season, and there are a number of ways for them to sneak into the playoffs. 

If the Raiders want to win the AFC West, they need a couple of things to happen. First and foremost, they need the Kansas City Chiefs to knock off the Broncos in Week 17. That loss will create a number of scenarios in which the Raiders can win the AFC West so long as they beat the Chiefs in Week 16 and the San Diego Chargers in Week 17.

The bane of Oakland's AFC West dreams.
The bane of Oakland's AFC West dreams.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

It helps that the Broncos also have to play the New England Patriots, which is a game that could very well end Denver's winning streak.

All this being said, it is my personal belief that the Raiders can kiss the AFC West goodbye. With Tebow Time in full effect, I daresay that ship has sailed.

If so, the Raiders will need to sneak into the postseason via a wild-card berth. To do that, they're going to have to win out and hope for some help.

The key will be for the Jets to lose at least one of their final three games. If they do and the Raiders win out, they will both be 10-6 but the Raiders will earn the wild-card spot thanks to their win over the Jets way back in Week 3. 

However, this can only happen if the Titans don't also win out, as they would get the nod for the wild card if they and the Raiders both finish 10-6 thanks to their win percentage in conference games.

The odds of the Titans losing at least one game are good, as they have to play at the Houston Texans in Week 17. If the Raiders win out and the Titans lose that game, the Raiders are in. The Raiders would also be in if the Titans beat Houston but lose to Indianapolis or Jacksonville, though I doubt that's going to happen.

As for the Bengals, the Raiders will be ahead of them in the pecking order even if they both win out.

If you're looking for a short-answer assessment of Oakland's playoff chances, allow me to put it this way.

If the Raiders want to win the division, they need to take care of their own business and hope that the Chiefs can handle the Broncos in Week 17. If they want a wild card berth, they need to win out and hope the competition struggles.

It's a lot to ask for, to be sure, but none of this is impossible. The Raiders are still very much alive.

Though, I will concede that they would be more alive with Darren McFadden, Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford.


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