How the Raiders Can Still Make the Playoffs

jon gruden derek carr

Getty Oakland Raiders' Derek Carr & Jon Gruden.

It may come as a surprise to some, but the Oakland Raiders have a real shot at the playoffs in 2019. After they beat the Chicago Bears, it was looking like the team might go on a run. However, they lost two in a row to the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans. Instead of letting the wheels fall off and going into a slump, the Raiders pulled it together and got a hard-fought win against the Detroit Lions. It was far from perfect, but the 2019 version of the Raiders is better than the 2017 or 2018 versions.

Now that Oakland is back in the win column and back playing home games, going on a serious run is a real possibility. The playoffs didn’t seem likely for this team after last season, but the AFC is in a down year and the Raiders may be able to get into a wild card spot.

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The Raiders’ Remaining Schedule

For the first half of the season, the Raiders had one of the toughest schedules out of any team in the NFL. Not only were they consistently playing teams with winning records, but they also didn’t play a game in their home stadium for five straight games. Now that they’ve gotten past a formidable Lions team, Oakland’s schedule eases up significantly.

The team has a short week and will be facing off against the Los Angeles Chargers in Oakland on Thursday. This may have seemed like an easy win for the Raiders not long ago, but Los Angeles just shutdown a Packers team that blew out Oakland not that long ago. The Chargers are always going to be a tough matchup for the Raiders, but they usually can pull off a win in one of the two games against them. This is the team’s remaining schedule:

Week 10: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (4-5)

Week 11: vs. Cincinnati Bengals (0-8)

Week 12: @ New York Jets (1-7)

Week 13: @ Kansas City Chiefs (6-3)

Week 14: vs. Tennessee Titans (4-5)

Week 15: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-5)

Week 16: @ Los Angeles Chargers (4-5)

Week 17: @ Denver Broncos (3-6)

The combined record of the teams the Raiders face is 26-44. That’s a significantly easier schedule than the team faced before.

How the Raiders Can Make the Playoffs

The Raiders are sitting at 4-4 and are 2.5 games behind the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West lead. It’s highly unlikely the Raiders will be able to catch the Chiefs, so they should focus on getting one of the two wild-card spots. Oakland is one game behind the Indianapolis Colts for the sixth seed in the playoffs. The Raiders will have to hope that the Texans keep control over the AFC South as they hold the tiebreaker over the Colts, but not Houston. It’s going to be hard to catch up to the Buffalo Bills, who hold the fifth seed at 6-2 and a relatively easy schedule going forward.

At the end of the day, the Raiders can’t control what other teams do. If they win out and go 12-4, they’ll be in the playoffs. That’s not a realistic goal, but the team could easily win six of the final 8 games and go 10-6. Oakland needs to beat the Bengals, Jets and Broncos. The Titans and Jaguars are both very inconsistent teams and they’ll be games the Raiders should win. That means the team will just need to beat the Chargers one out of the two games they play to get to 10-6. That record might not get them in the playoffs if the Colts keep playing well, but winning 10 games will put them in a good spot. A lot will need to fall into place for the Raiders, but they have a real shot at getting to the playoffs for only the second time since 2002.

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