A Raiders loss and a Denver Broncos win at Minnesota has dropped them into a tie for the division, and ended up placing them on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned at this point in the season.
The Broncos and Raiders are tied for first place, however, the Broncos hold the tie-breaker at this point. A better winning percentage in the AFC West gives the Broncos the edge with control of their own destiny.
The Baltimore Ravens and the Cincinnati Bengals are ahead of the Raiders for the two wild card spots. The wild card picture could change depending on the outcome of the Baltimore Ravens game against the Cleveland Browns being played at this moment. Regardless of the outcome, the Raiders may still be out at this point.
This was a game that the Raiders had to have. With games looming in Green Bay and home against the Detroit Lions, there is very little room for error at this point in the season. Don't forget about having to travel to Kansas City and a home game to the hated San Diego Chargers to end the season.
The Dolphins entered Sunday's game with a 3-8 record, but don't let the record fool you. The Dolphins had won three out of their last four, and the loss was a last-second heart breaker in Dallas against the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, coming off a short week.
The Raiders were underdogs going into the game against Miami. The spread alone should have caused a red flag to fly up for the Raiders. Not that the odds makers in Las Vegas have a direct effect on the games, but it's crazy how close they are on a regular basis. The guys who set the odds were off on the points, although the Dolphins did cover. Somebody knew something somewhere.
With everything to play for and just as much to lose, the Raiders played unmotivated and uninspired football.
Palmer Not in Form
After a rough couple of games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Palmer settled down and started to look like the once Pro Bowl quarterback that played in Cincinnati.
Not today! Palmer was 20-of-41 for 273 yards and a pick-six. No. 3 never looked comfortable. He was only sacked twice, but was under pressure for most of the game. Palmer had happy feet combined with little pocket presence. Not a good formula for success.
No Michael Bush
Michael Bush had a rough day as well. His line was a meager 10 carries for 18 yards. Bush has played well in the absence of Darren McFadden. The reality is this, the Raiders are going to need a healthy McFadden back on the field if they are going to make the playoffs.
The Raiders have been beat up all year long, especially when it comes to some of their most explosive offensive weapons. Jacoby Ford Denarius Moore and McFadden have all missed games. The Raiders have overcame those injuries and were still in the driver's seat coming into Miami on Sunday.
Without the aforementioned players, the Raiders should have had a better showing than they gave. If the game would have been closer, win or lose, Raiders fans wouldn't have as much to worry about.
Cold Hard Facts
Winning three in a row had Raider Nation feeling good about things. They did win three in a row (two on the road), but each opponent had a chance to either tie or win the game in the final minutes of each respective contest.
Believe it or not, the Dolphins are probably the best team the Raiders have played in their last four games. This point has to have the Raiders and the fans concerned as they head down the final stretch of the season.
The last four weeks are going to be crucial to a Raiders team that went from sitting pretty to needing help to make the playoffs.