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Here’s how the Raiders could still make the playoffs

Updated December 20, 2022 - 8:18 pm

The holidays can be stressful enough without the unnecessary aggravation of trying to figure out the complex scenarios that would get the Raiders into the playoffs.

So as an early Christmas gift, here is an attempt to simplify things as much as possible so the focus can return to where it belongs.

The bottom line is the Raiders must win their three remaining games and hope for some help, though it’s not even that easy. There is actually a way the Raiders could lose on Sunday and not be eliminated as long as every other team in the hunt somehow loses this weekend as well.

OK, time to start over.

While a loss in any of the three remaining games — at Pittsburgh and home against the 49ers and Chiefs — doesn’t officially eliminate the Raiders, it does for all intents and purposes.

Winning out is the key to any scenario and the most difficult part considering the Raiders will likely be underdogs in all three games.

The Raiders currently have a 5 percent chance of making the postseason, according to the projection model at Fivethirtyeight.com. A win on Saturday increases those odds to 11 percent and wins in each of their three remaining games would give them a 54 percent chance to make a return visit to the postseason.

“First of all, it’s confusing,” McDaniels said of monitoring all the scenarios. “Second of all, the one thing that we know we have to do in order to keep going is win. So, to focus on anything other than our singular goal each week of trying to beat the opponent that we have on the schedule is kind of a waste of time and energy, honestly.”

So there is a slightly better than 50/50 shot everything else will fall into place should the Raiders win out.

What exactly does that entail? It’s complicated.

The most simple way to look at it is that the Jaguars, Jets and Patriots need to lose at least one game and then either the Dolphins or Chargers must lose two of their final three.

That’s it.

The Jets and Jaguars play each other on Thursday night, so while that means one of them will almost assuredly lose, it also means the other is almost certainly going to win.

New England has games against the Bengals, Bills and Dolphins, so chances are the Patriots will drop a game somewhere along the way.

Where things get tricky is with hoping either the Chargers or Dolphins drop two of their final three games.

Raiders fans are used to cheering against the Chargers, but Justin Herbert’s team has road games with the Colts and Broncos around a home game against the Rams. It’s tough to find two defeats in there.

The Dolphins, however, have dropped three in a row and have a more difficult schedule to close the season.

After hosting the Packers this week, they play on the road against the Patriots before hosting the Jets in the finale.

There are some difficult matchups there, so two losses aren’t out of the question. Keep in mind, however, the Raiders still need the Jets and Patriots to lose at some point, so that is certainly a complicating factor.

Got it?

Let’s see if this helps. The best path for the Raiders is to win out and hope no team in the AFC East except for the Buffalo Bills finishes the season better than 9-8.

Hopefully that puts a nice bow on things.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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