Raiders' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 11

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistNovember 20, 2021

Raiders' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 11

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    David Becker/Associated Press

    The Las Vegas Raiders' two-game skid has dealt a big blow to their playoff chances, but they are far from cooked.

    According to the New York Times' playoff prediction machine, the Raiders still have a 29 percent chance to make the playoffs, and that number can grow to 41 percent with a win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.

    The 41-14 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs was demoralizing. But it really just sent the Raiders back to the logjam taking place in the AFC right now. Several teams are right around the .500 mark as few teams have actually proved that they are good on a consistent basis.

    If the Raiders can avoid yet another late-season swoon, they will find themselves right back in the playoff race. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if they got some help from some other teams experiencing a bad week.

    Here's a look at the playoff picture as it stands and who the Raiders should be pulling for this week.

Colts at Bills (1 p.m. ET)

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    At this point, the Raiders should be rooting for as many wild-card contenders to drop out of the race as possible. With a loss against the Buffalo Bills, the Indianapolis Colts' chances would take a major blow.

    Indy comes into the game with a 44 percent chance to make the field, per FiveThirtyEight's projections. However, a loss to the Bills would sink those chances down to 33 percent. Their record would go to 5-6 and put them at least a game off the pace to get the seventh wild-card spot in the AFC.

    The Bills (6-3), on the other hand, are going to be tough to catch for the Raiders. They are leading the AFC East, but the surging New England Patriots (7-4) are going to be a problem for them down the stretch.

    At this point, catching either of the AFC East teams is going to be hard because they are already a full game behind.

    The Colts have been hot of late, winning four of their last five behind some incredible performances from Jonathan Taylor. Because of their 1-4 start, they have an uphill battle to climb into the playoff picture, though.

    Raiders fans should be hoping the Bills take some of the wind out of those sails.

Cowboys at Chiefs (4:25 p.m. ET)

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    Despite the beating the Raiders just took at the hands of the Chiefs, they are far from eliminated when it comes to the AFC West title.

    By record, the Raiders are tied with the Los Angeles Chargers at 5-4 and just a half-game behind the Chiefs, who are now 6-4. It was obviously not an ideal outcome against Kansas City, but the Raiders split the series last season and will have the opportunity to do so again when they go to Arrowhead in Week 14.

    For now, the Raiders can hope to get some help from some other teams to keep the Chiefs within striking distance.

    That help is most likely to come from the Dallas Cowboys, who have been one of the best and most consistent teams in the league this season. According to ESPN's FPI, the game is practically a coin flip.

    The key will be what the Cowboys defense can do to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' passing attack. Mahomes was held to one of his lowest passing totals in his career two weeks ago against the Chiefs with 166 yards, but he came back with more than 400 yards against Las Vegas last week.

    If the Cowboys can at least slow him down, they have a quarterback in Dak Prescott who is more than able to compete in a shootout.

Steelers at Chargers (8:20 p.,. ET)

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    Don Wright/Associated Press

    The Raiders will have another opportunity to make up some ground in their own division on Sunday night. The Chargers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday's final game, and Las Vegas should be hoping the Pittsburgh defense has a good night against Justin Herbert.

    The Steelers may or may not have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The veteran is still on the reserve/COVID-19 list but can be activated if he is symptom-free for 48 hours and has two negative tests taken 24 hours apart.

    However, the Steelers are capable of winning the game without Roethlisberger. The Steelers are seventh in defensive efficiency while the Chargers are 26th, setting up a game in which the Chargers don't have the kind of defense to shut down the Steelers even with Mason Rudolph at the helm, and the Steelers could still limit Herbert and Co.

    The Chargers are clinging to the final wild-card spot in the AFC. The Steelers are the sixth-seed after tying with the Detroit Lions.

    A win for the Steelers would put them even further from the Raiders, but it would also knock the Chargers out of their current spot and tighten the AFC West race even more.


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