62°F
weather icon Clear

Raiders’ remaining schedule full of playoff contenders

The Raiders spent the last few days giving thanks for a victory that kept their playoff hopes alive. It came just when it looked like the season was once again spiraling in the wrong direction.

Now it’s time to look ahead.

One of the more difficult schedules in the league is on the horizon, but the upset victory over the Cowboys greatly improved the Raiders’ outlook for the postseason.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the victory improved the chances of the Raiders making the playoffs from a season-low nine percent to a more optimistic 17 percent.

Their odds of winning the division are just three percent, but both numbers are subject to change if more outcomes fall their way this weekend.

Sunday will provide a good opportunity for scoreboard watching. Raiders fans can kick back in the comfort of Thursday’s win and cheer for other AFC contenders to fall.

But the bottom line is the Raiders have to put together some wins to have any sort of chance, regardless of how the other teams perform.

With that in mind, it’s worth taking a look at the six opponents left on the regular-season slate.

The Raiders have the ninth-most difficult remaining schedule in the NFL based on winning percentage. They play just one more game against a team currently below .500.

Here’s a more detailed look:

WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

■ Location: Allegiant Stadium

■ Game time: 1:05 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 5

■ Record: 4-6

■ Last meeting: Sept. 24, 2017 — Washington 27, Raiders 10

■ Scouting Report: The questions about Washington entering the season mostly centered on whether they could muster enough offense to return to the postseason. Instead, their highly-touted defense has taken a massive step backward and the offense has shown signs of life.

Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was injured early in the season and Taylor Heinicke has led the offense on a roller-coaster ride. The Old Dominion alum was efficient in his first few starts before putting up a tremendous effort in a win over Atlanta to start October.

The rest of that month was a horror show, but Heinicke has the offense rolling again in November. Terry McLaurin is a dangerous threat at wide receiver regardless of who’s throwing him passes. Antonio Gibson is a playmaker out of the backfield.

The defense was led by Chase Young, but his disappointing sophomore season ended prematurely when he tore his ACL against the Buccaneers.

■ Betting line: Raiders -1.5, Total 47.5

KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

■ Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

■ Game time: 10 a.m., Sunday, Dec. 12

■ Record: 7-4

■ Last meeting: Nov. 14 — Chiefs 41, Raiders 14

■ Scouting report: Prior to their first meeting with the Raiders, there were questions about whether the Chiefs were broken. Those questions have all but disappeared during a four-game win streak. That run of success has actually been keyed by a defense allowing fewer than 12 points per game over that span, a dramatic difference from early in the season when the unit was conceding yards at a record pace.

Of course, the offense is still the identity of the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes has adjusted to the way teams have been defending him. The result has been more efficient performances that have the Chiefs rolling once again.

FiveThirtyEight now gives Kansas City a 53 percent chance to win the AFC West.

■ Betting line: Chiefs -9.5, Total 54

CLEVELAND BROWNS

■ Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland

■ Game time: 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 18

■ Record: 6-5

■ Last meeting: Nov. 1, 2020 — Raiders 16, Browns 6

■ Scouting report: A December game on the shores of Lake Erie provides the real possibility of nasty weather. It could even be a repeat of last year’s ugly game that taught Raiders fans the word graupel, a soft hail that wreaked havoc on the 2020 matchup.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield has been wildly inconsistent as he tries to battle through a shoulder injury that’s likely to need attention after the season. The Browns remain in the thick of the playoff race on the strength of their defense and run game, led by star back Nick Chubb.

■ Betting line: Browns -4.5, Total 45

DENVER BRONCOS

■ Location: Allegiant Stadium

■ Game time: 1:25 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 26

■ Record: 5-5

■ Last meeting: Oct. 17 — Raiders 34, Broncos 24

■ Scouting report: Denver enters Sunday’s AFC West home game against the Chargers in last place, but still harboring hopes of making a late-season run to the playoffs. They have remained in the race despite trading defensive star and team leader Von Miller to the Rams.

Denver has been a difficult team to figure out. After back-to-back wins over Washington and Dallas, the Broncos got blown out at home by Philadelphia before their bye week. It’s difficult to predict where they will be by the time Christmas rolls around.

Should they fall out of the race, it’s possible Drew Lock will be back at quarterback and some of the team’s younger players will be getting more reps. Regardless, this is a team with a ton of pass-catching weapons and a potential star running back in rookie Javonte Williams.

■ Betting line: Raiders -2, Total 44.5

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

■ Location: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

■ Game time: 10 a.m., Sunday, Jan. 2

■ Record: 6-5

■ Last meeting: Dec. 13, 2020 — Colts 44, Raiders 27

■ Scouting report: The Colts have already become familiar with the full Carson Wentz experience. He will follow a left-handed fadeaway falling-down interception with a tight-window dime for a long touchdown. There’s been far more good than bad recently.

After a 1-4 start, the Colts have won five of their last six games and appear to be one of the best teams in the AFC. Running back Jonathan Taylor is a legitimate MVP candidate and one of the best offensive players in the league, He has eclipsed 100 scrimmage yards and scored at least one touchdown in eight straight games, reaching the end zone multiple times in four of them.

■ Betting line: Colts -7, Total 47.5

LOS ANGELES CHARGERS

■ Location: Allegiant Stadium

■ Game time: 1:25 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 9

■ Record: 6-4

■ Last meeting: Oct. 4 — Chargers 28, Raiders 14

■ Scouting report: The season ends with a renewal of the rivalry at Allegiant Stadium. Quarterback Justin Herbert is one of the brightest young talents in the AFC, though either by his choice or the design of the offense, he has been fairly conservative this season.

The offense is very capable of erupting at any time, however, as the Steelers learned last week. There are also plenty of playmakers on defense as well, though the unit has been absolutely dreadful against the run all season.

This matchup always has the potential to be wild, but this one could have massive ramifications for one or both teams. Circle this one on the calendar.

■ Betting line: Chargers -3, Total 52.5

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

Like and follow Vegas Nation
THE LATEST