Heading into Week 9, the Las Vegas Raiders sit at 4-3. This record only lands them in second place in the division and eighth in the conference. However, there is more to this story and these numbers. Through the first seven games, the Silver and Black have been put through a gauntlet, as their combined opponent win percentage through these games ranks first in the NFL.
There is hope, though. The Raiders are getting healthier and getting key players back. In fact, they may be primed for a late-season playoff push. We will take a dive into the road ahead and how the they can sneak into the postseason come December.
Dominate The AFC West
The Raiders begin a three-game stretch against AFC West opponents throughout November. If they want to qualify for the playoffs, they will need to capitalize on these opportunities. They already beat the Kansas City Chiefs, so there is no excuse for them not to dominate the other two teams in the division. With a combined record of 5-9, the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers have disappointed this year outside of a few bright spots.
Neutralizing Chargers stud Justin Herbert and scoring on a stout Broncos’ defense will be the ultimate keys to these games. Also, these next two games will mean even more as following them, the Raiders will host the Chiefs in Las Vegas who will most certainly be looking for revenge. Winning two of the next three games will be crucial. It will open the doors for a great finish as the team enters a very Raider-friendly final six games.
The Raiders have a favorable back end
After the Chiefs, the Raiders will look to take advantage of their seemingly favorable remaining schedule. With six games left on the schedule, there is plenty left on the table for them to enter the playoff picture. The Silver and Black begin this stretch by going cross country to face the Falcons in Atlanta. The team has some great talent but may stumble as they become acclimated to their interim coach, Raheem Morris.
After ‘A-Town’, the Raiders will return to the East Coast. They will seek vengeance on the lowly New York Jets that embarrassed them in the ‘Big Apple’ last season. If they cannot manage to win this game, there will be serious questions to be had across the board.
Following their trip to New York, the Raiders will have one of their most important games of the season. They will face a Colts team that will likely be neck and neck with the Silver and Black in the wild card race. This will be an intense, hard-fought game to secure the tiebreaker.
Look for the Raiders to attack and force our old pal Phillip Rivers into turnovers in Las Vegas. Once they (hopefully) take care of business against the Colts, all eyes turn back to our division plus one. The Raiders will continue onto a primetime matchup against division rival Chargers. The Silver and Black will look to solidify their playoff chances with games against Miami and Denver.
It is quite clear the Raiders have a path to the postseason. Facing a remaining schedule with a current combined record of 16-28, the Raiders must continue their trend of solid play and make their mark on a mediocre remaining schedule.
Beware of a 2019 Repeat
Most fans remember how the team closed out its 2019 season. Through ten weeks, the team sat at 6-4 and was primed to make a playoff push with an “easy” remaining schedule. They ultimately lost five of the final six games and fell short of a playoff berth. This story is one the 2020 Raiders will look to avoid.
One of the main causes of this late-season stumble for the Raiders last season was the mounting injuries that plagued them on the back end of their schedule. Nevertheless, things are a bit different this season. They will be returning many key pieces in the coming weeks so they should be able to overcome this late-season hump and hopefully propel themselves into the playoffs. Look for the Silver and Black to finish the season strong and make a case as the sixth or seventh seed in the AFC playoff race.
Final Record: 10-6 (6th Seed in AFC)
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