Nobody saw it coming, but it’s Week 17 and the Oakland Raiders are still in the playoff race. After reeling off four straight losses from Week 12 to Week 15, it seemed like the team’s playoff chances were all but done. However, everything went right for the Raiders in Week 16 and they have a legitimate shot at stealing the last Wild Card spot in the AFC.
Though Oakland is still in it, they need a lot to happen in the final week of the regular season if they’re getting into the playoffs. A win against the Denver Broncos won’t be enough to ensure a playoff appearance.
AFC Playoff Standings
*Note: Updated after Sunday’s games, prior to the night game.
|1. Baltimore Ravens||13||2||0|
|2. Kansas City Chiefs||12||4||0|
|3. New England Patriots||12||4||0|
|4. Houston Texans||10||5||0|
|5. Buffalo Bills||10||6||0|
|6. Tennessee Titans||8||7||0|
|7. Pittsburgh Steelers||8||7||0|
|8. Oakland Raiders||7||8||0|
One thing the Raiders absolutely must do is beat the Broncos in Denver. Denver has been playing much better as of late and the weather is going to be cold. A win won’t come easy for Oakland. Not only do they have to beat a tough Broncos team, but they also need several other teams to win.
The Raiders need the Houston Texans to beat the Tennessee Titans, the Baltimore Ravens to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars. If that wasn’t confusing enough, the Raiders also needed a New England Patriots win, a Detroit Lions win, a Los Angeles Chargers win or a Chicago Bears win. Luckily, the Bears pulled off a win, which gives the Raiders one less thing to worry about. If all those things happen, then Oakland is back in the playoffs. With all that said, the NFL isn’t going to make things easy.
Here’s how the NFL determines how tiebreakers work, per of NFL.com.
Head-to-head, if applicable.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
Strength of victory.
Strength of schedule.
Best combined ranking among conference teams in points scored and points allowed.
Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
Best net points in conference games.
Best net points in all games.
Best net touchdowns in all games.
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Ravens & Texans Aren’t Helping Things
The Raiders need a lot to work in their favor, but based on the matchups, it was actually very possible that crazy things could happen. Unfortunately for Oakland, the Ravens and Texans aren’t doing them any favors. John Harbaugh announced early in the week that he’s sitting his main starters. The Steelers are having a hard time at quarterback and have been very inconsistent. They could still lose against Ravens backups, but Lamar Jackson not playing certainly helps their chances.
The Texans had a tougher matchup against the Tennessee Titans but beat them just a couple of weeks ago. Bill O’Brien had made it seem like his starters were going to play, but it was recently reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that they will actually be resting key starters. With their spot in the playoffs locked up, there’s no reason for the Ravens or Texans to play starters. It’s an almost devasting blow to the Raiders’ chances, but in the NFL, anything can happen.