Raiders' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 13

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2021

Raiders' Rooting Guide for NFL Playoff Implications of Week 13

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    The Las Vegas Raiders' epic Thanksgiving win over the Dallas Cowboys didn't just snap a three-game losing streak—it reignited the team's hope that it could make the playoffs.

    Make no mistake, the road to get there is difficult. The AFC is loaded with good-not-great teams this season, and it's possible that even 10-7 wouldn't get it done. But with the Raiders sitting at 6-5, finishing at 10-7 isn't out of the question.

    Las Vegas is ninth in the conference, with the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers directly ahead of them in the AFC West logjam. With games against both teams left on the schedule, it's not out of the realm of possibility for Las Vegas to climb the standings.

    Even with wins over their divisional foes, the Raiders will still need some help to make sure they get in. Here are three outcomes their fans can root for in Week 13 to help ensure the Raiders a playoff spot.

Texans over Colts (1 p.m. ET)

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    The Indianapolis Colts are a half-game behind the Raiders, but they remain a big threat to make the playoffs. FiveThirtyEight gives them a 54 percent chance to make the postseason, while the Raiders are at just 20 percent.

    The Colts' projections are high because they have played well of late and boast a manageable remaining schedule. They are 18th in remaining schedule strength, per Tankathon.

    So for the Raiders to stay ahead of the Colts, they are going to have to keep winning games and hope that Indy drops a game or two it is expected to win. The Colts' meeting with the Houston Texans on Sunday certainly qualifies as such. ESPN's Football Power Index only gives the Texans a 24 percent chance of victory, and that seems generous.

    In the Colts' past five games, their only losses have come to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans in overtime. Those teams are likely playoff-bound and have played well for most of the season.

    The Texans are not that team. If you're looking for a silver lining, Houston's run defense has only given up 3.7 yards per carry over its past three contests. That's important, as the Colts offense has been reliant on Jonathan Taylor this season.

Bengals over Chargers (1 p.m. ET)

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    There's no great result for the Raiders' immediate playoff picture in this one. The Cincinnati Bengals are in line for the five-seed right now. They have the top wild-card spot, and the 8-3 Ravens have a leg up to win the AFC North.

    The Los Angeles Chargers are tied with the Raiders by record but are ahead on tiebreakers. So the Raiders are stuck hoping the team they have a chance to pass later loses. That would be the Chargers.

    The Raiders' loss to the Bengals in Week 11 was their opportunity to gain the upper hand on Cincinnati. However, Derek Carr and Co. will have the opportunity to avenge their 28-14 loss to the AFC West foe Chargers in Week 18 to close out the season.

    A win for the Bengals on Sunday gives them an even tighter grip on the top wild-card spot, but it allows the race for the seventh seed to become even more wide-open.

    That's what the hope should be for the Silver and Black. There's a good chance it plays out this way too. The Bengals just beat the Raiders and Steelers by a combined score of 73-23, while the Chargers just lost by double-digits to the Broncos.

Patriots over Bills (Monday Night, 8:15 p.m. ET)

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    There's no denying the biggest matchup of Week 13 is on Monday Night Football, when the New England Patriots put their six-game winning streak on the line against the Buffalo Bills.

    It's in the Raiders' best interest that the streak continues.

    The Bills are another team that are sitting in a good spot at 7-4. Like the Bengals, they are in a division where the front-runner has a good chance to finish the season strong. Naturally, there are few teams playing as well as the Patriots are right now.

    For all the hype the Bills came into the season with, they have been a bit of a letdown. Their biggest problem has been inconsistency, and their past five games have been a great example of that. They dominated the New Orleans Saints on Thanksgiving, but the week before they were wiped off the map by the Indianapolis Colts.

    So the Raiders have to ask themselves which team do they want to have to beat out down the homestretch for a wild-card spot: The streaking Patriots, with head coach Bill Belichick on the hunt for yet another playoff berth, or the Bills, who just lost Tre'Davious White for the season and handed the Jacksonville Jaguars one of their two wins this year?

    That answer seems obvious. The Bills suffering a late-season collapse is the more likely outcome, and that would be beneficial to the Raiders.

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