After four straight bad loses this late in the season, no one could blame you for thinking the Oakland Raiders are out of playoff contention. Well, buckle up because crazy things could still possibly happen. Though the Raiders lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, they were fortunate that the Tennessee Titans, Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts all found a way to also lose. That means the Raiders could still possibly get into the playoffs, courtesy of the Associated Press’ Josh Dubow.
Oakland needs some craziness to happen to surprise the world. First things first, the Raiders need to get back in the win column if they’re going to have a shot.
So You’re Saying There’s a Chance
The Raiders making the playoffs this season would probably mean the onset of the apocalypse but crazy stuff happens. Considering how bad the team has looked through the last four games, it’s almost impossible to imagine this squad in the playoffs. Their last two games are against teams they’ve already beaten once, so they could definitely finish the season 8-8.
Things get difficult when taking into account what the Raiders need to happen that’s out of their control. The Titans could feasibly lose their last two games against the New Orleans Saints and Houston Texans. The Colts should beat the Carolina Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Baltimore Ravens should beat the Cleveland Browns and Steelers. The trickiest obstacle is having the New York Jets beat the Steelers. While the Raiders need a lot to happen, it’s actually not as out of the realm of possibility as it might seem on the surface. If everything goes right for Oakland on Sunday, things could get really interesting in Week 17. At the very least, the Raiders are in playoff contention this late in the season for only the fourth time in the past 17th season, per Dubow.
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Jon Gruden Isn’t Giving Up
Until the Raiders are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, head coach Jon Gruden is going to do everything he can to make sure it happens. That includes refusing to rule out star players Trent Brown and Josh Jacobs, who are both battling through injuries.
“When [Josh Jacobs and Trent Brown] can play, we’re going to play them,” Gruden said in his Monday press conference. “We’re trying to win and we need them to win, but obviously we are going to do right by the player and do what the training staff says.”
Gruden also said he doesn’t plan to play backup quarterback DeShone Kizer because he’s wanting to put the best players on the field. If the Raiders lose to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, it’s time to close up shop and shut down Josh Jacobs for the last game of the season. The team should already be considering shutting the running back down even though the playoffs are still attainable. It’s time to start thinking about 2020 and beyond for this young team. The playoffs may be unlikely this year, but it’s very possible they find themselves there in 2020.