The Raiders came into Sunday’s game against the Broncos knowing that San Diego and Kansas City had already taken care of business. The Chargers routed the 49ers on Thursday night, and the Chiefs got the job done on the road in St. Louis. All the Raiders could do to keep their faint playoff hopes alive was win, and live to play another game next week.
They held serve and won 39-23 for their 7th win of the season to go along with 7 losses. The silver lining for the Silver and Black is that they will not lose 10 or more games in a season for the first time since 2002. The black shadow that hangs over this team is still the game they lost in Arizona to the Cardinals. If Sebastian Janikowski makes that chip shot at the end of the game and the Raiders win that game, then they’d be 8-6 and in control of their own destiny.
Now, this is how it looks with two games to play. First and foremost, Oakland has to win out. That alone won’t be easy. That’s because Peyton Manning is coming to town in a game that is of vital importance to the Colts who are tied for the division lead with the Jaguars.
Even if Oakland can win that game, they could still be eliminated next Sunday before they even kickoff against Indianapolis if Kansas City can beat the Tennessee Titans at home earlier in the day. However, if the Chiefs lose to the Titans, the door will remain open for Oakland.
But that’s not the only help the Raiders will need. They also need the Chargers to lose at least one of their final two games. Next on the docket for San Diego? Cincinnati in Cincinnati. The Raiders need it to be windy, and cold and snowy.
So there it is. All the Raiders need to have a chance going into Week 17 is three upsets in Week 16. The Titans beat the Chiefs, the Raiders beat the Colts, and the Chargers fall to the Bengals. Simple enough, right?
Now, on to Week 17. Oakland goes to Kansas City. They win and they win the division. The only wrinkle is if San Diego happens to win in Cincinnati in Week 16. If they do that, then the Raiders need the Chargers to stumble in Denver the final week. If they do, the Raiders are division champs.
Look, even if the Raiders win their division, which they’re not going to do, they aren’t going to win a playoff game. I have said all along that when you’ve been as bad as the Raiders have been for this long, before you can be great, you need to be good, and before you can be good, you need to be average. This team is average. One more win assures them of an eight-win season. That’s as average as one gets. Considering where they’ve been since 2002, eight wins would be monumental.
From there we can start talking about winning divisions again. For now, we can only lament over missed kicks, missed opportunities and… three upsets in Week 16.