Winning The West Is Still The Raiders’ Best Shot

Hard to believe that at 4-6 the Oakland Raiders are still right in the thick of things when it comes to a playoff berth.

After the embarrassing loss at the hands of the New England Patriots the Raiders still only find themselves one and a half games out of a wild-card spot in the playoffs at this point in the season.

What is even more incredible is that Oakland finds itself the exact same distance from the AFC West crown. After the Chief’s 5-0 start they’ve failed to take hold of the West stumbling to a 6-4 record at the moment, with their most recent loss coming at the hands of the New York Giants.

The Broncos, on the other hand, have dug themselves quite a hole, dropping six straight to sit at 3-7. The L.A. Chargers have resurrected their season after starting 0-4 to now sit at 4-6 on the season and in second place in the West.

Taking a look at each teams’ remaining schedule it’s easy to see Oakland still has a chance, and with how “topsy-turvy” the NFL season has been thus far, the Raiders just might catch a few breaks and make something out of this season.

Oakland Raiders Remaining Schedule
  • Vs. Denver Broncos
  • Vs. New York Giants
  • @ Kansas City Chiefs
  • Vs. Dallas Cowboys
  • @ Philadelphia Eagles
Kansas City Chiefs Remaining Schedule
  • Vs. Buffalo Bills
  • @ New York Jets
  • Vs. Oakland Raiders
  • Vs. L.A. Chargers
  • Vs. Miami Dolphins
  • @ Denver Broncos
L.A. Chargers Remaining Schedule
  • @ Dallas Cowboys
  • Vs. Cleveland Browns
  • Vs. Washington Redskins
  • @ Kansas City Chiefs
  • @ New York Jets
  • Vs. Oakland Raiders
Denver Broncos Remaining Schedule
  • @ Oakland Raiders
  • @ Miami Dolphins
  • Vs. New York Jets
  • @ Indianapolis Colts
  • @ Washington Redskins
  • Vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Taking a look at Oakland’s remaining schedule, while quite dismal at first, at second glance it’s very doable. Playing the Broncos at home is big and with Denver starting young gun Paxton Lynch at quarterback the Raiders must take advantage of the inexperienced Lynch at home.

The following week, Oakland should play tough run defense (the “strength” of the defense if there is one) when they host the Giants in the Black Hole and make Eli Manning and the depleted Giant’s receiving corps beat them.

The following weeks versus the Chiefs and Cowboys could be tough but a Dallas team without Ezekiel Elliott is very beatable. Come Christmas Day, the Silver and Black could catch a huge break against the Eagles as Philadelphia could be sitting comfortably by then with a punched ticket to the playoffs if they continue their winning ways. Meaning they would have no need to start their star players against the Raiders. Finally, the Raiders playing in L.A. against the Chargers is a matchup that could be quite entertaining to watch as both teams could be at the doorstep looking to push open the door to January.

Many fans looked for Oakland to snag the remaining Wild Card spot but after Oakland failed to win in Mexico, the Ravens who currently sit at 5-5 hold the tie-breaker over Oakland and moved into the final reachable wildcard spot after beating the Green Bay Packers. The Raiders are better off looking to get into January through their own division especially since the Ravens remaining schedule is relatively soft.

Ravens Remaining Schedule
  • Vs. Houston Texans
  • Vs. Detroit Lions
  • @ Pittsburg Steelers
  • @ Cleveland Browns
  • Vs. Indianapolis Colts
  • Vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The Ravens could easily go 4-2 the rest of the way forcing Oakland to go 5-1 to finish the season to claim the final wild-card spot. However, within their own division, the front-running Chiefs are sliding and sliding fast. After their bye week, they failed to beat a Giant’s team that has nothing to play for. Now the Chiefs find themselves in the same boat as Oakland, searching for answers. In my opinion, 8-8 could be all it takes to claim the AFC West. Oakland must find the answers before Kansas City does.

Looking back, Oakland was in a position to beat both Denver and L.A. but failed to close the deal both times. This time around the Raiders must find a way to come out on top if they want a shot in January. If 8-8 is all it takes to win the AFC West, then Oakland needs to win out in their own division to have a shot and snag at least one win against the Giants, Eagles, or Cowboys.

Perhaps though, Oakland’s biggest enemy could be the Chargers as they have now won four out of their last six and looked strong against the Bills. Going 4-2 is much easier than 5-1 with their remaining schedule but also easier said than done.

Final Thoughts

How nice it would have been if even one of those games against either the Chargers or Broncos could have gone Oakland’s way. But this is the hole Oakland now finds itself in and it’s black indeed.

The biggest issue at this point seems to be whether the coaching staff will allow these young talented players, especially on offense, to play to the potential we all saw in 2016. If not, Oakland will find itself on the outside looking in once again as they have so many times in the past.

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