If the playoffs started today, after one game played in Week 12, the Raiders would be in the playoffs. Before Thursday night’s Texans/Colts game, the Raiders were just out of the playoffs, behind the Colts and Texans, but the Colts’ loss pushed them behind the Raiders in the wildcard hunt. Of course, a loss to the Jets pushes them right back out of the playoffs.
With six games remaining, we can’t get so micro in our analysis of their playoff chances this season. But before we look to the future, we should check out how they’ve arrived at 6-4 on the year. So far, they’ve beaten the Broncos, Colts, Bears, Lions, Chargers, and Bengals. They’ve lost to the Chiefs, Vikings, Packers, and Texans, with only the Texans game being close.
Those wins and losses make sense, as they’ve lost to good teams and beaten weaker teams. Taking down the Colts in Indianapolis is the signature win and one that looks important in the wildcard race right now. Their season is one of a team that deserves to be on the edge of making the playoffs.
Over their last six games, they’ll face four teams with losing records, one with a winning record and one evened up at 5-5 — @Jets, @Chiefs, vs. Titans, vs. Jaguars, @Chargers, @Broncos. Unfortunately for the Raiders, these losing teams aren’t the bottom of the barrel, and all can make a game of it against Oakland. Also, four road games to two home games is slightly disconcerting.
Their division is in reach, as they are one game behind Kansas City, and the odds show that it would be an upset, of course, but in the realm of possibility. The Chiefs, as long as they are healthy, are the class of the AFC West and one of the top teams in the conference, so Raiders fans should likely put their finger-crossing energy into a wildcard berth.
The Raiders are actual the favorites right now to make the playoffs over the Colts, Steelers, and Titans, who are their main competition for a wildcard spot. Your ten dollar wager on them making the playoffs would net you a big one-dollar bill. That’s not worth your time. And winning the division after already losing 28-10 to the Chiefs is probably a longer shot than the odds given. If you’re going to buy a lottery ticket on the Raiders, it would be to win the AFC at +3300. Yeah, beating the Patriots or the Ravens or both, seems far-fetched, but the Raiders offensive line, running game and improving defense are all moving in the right direction at the moment.
Raiders: Yes (+110), No (-134)
Raiders: +350 to win AFC West (Chiefs lead at -500)