As we cross the halfway point of the 2020 season, it is safe to say the Las Vegas Raiders are in the playoff hunt, but what are the odds they make it? They have a favorable schedule, but is it really?
I know, you are probably channeling your inner Jim Mora with this gem that will never die…
…but seriously, with playoff expansion starting this season, I’d say the odds are pretty good for them to snatch one of the three Wild Card spots. They still control their fate, so things could end up working out.
The Las Vegas Raiders’ road to reckoning
The Raiders can compete. Their offense has been efficient and has had no problem imposing its pace. The unit has been eating clocks and has every now and then, landed these gems.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) November 8, 2020
The deadweight is the defense that has allowed an average of 28.6 points a game, and that number could be up if mother nature hadn’t given them some help in Cleveland. They have managed to come up with stops when it mattered, they just lack consistency.
The Raiders come up HUGE on defense to knock LA's potential game winning touchdown loose! pic.twitter.com/0znznZuOjS
— Raider Nation (@RaidersNationCP) November 9, 2020
While the offense has shown its identity, the defense has shown to be the weak link. These Raiders are sniffing the playoffs. Nevertheless, they need their defense to step up and make a stand in third and long situations. The road to reckoning is upon them, and the defense needs to figure it out, as the offense can only take them so far.
Road to Wreck-ing
The Raiders still control their fate and don’t really need to win out to see sneak into the playoffs. However, they will need to win at least half of their upcoming games. After all, the third spot may be clinched with a 9-7 record. We’ve seen the Raiders here before. Everything looks great, then that quicksand takes them in and they get in over their heads, dropping games they are supposed to win.
We aren’t skeptic, we just have to see it to fully believe it. Their offense won’t save them every game. We have seen coaches like Bill Belichick break them down to one-dimensional football, and with the defense playing as it is, this last stretch could be the wrecking of their inaugural season.
The Challenges Ahead
The Raiders are 5-3 heading into week 10. If the season ended today, they would own the sixth seed. They are currently in a four-way tie with Miami Dolphins, Cleveland Browns, and Indianapolis Colts, but they have a better conference record. The Silver and Black sit at 3-2, while Browns are 3-3, Dolphins 2-2, and Colts are 2-3.
The Raiders still have to play the Colts in Week 14 and the Dolphins in Week 16, both in Las Vegas. However, they have already beaten the Browns. They still have four division battles to go as well but they could be playing the Dolphins to lock up a wild card spot in Week 16, because of that third spot, a wildcard birth can be locked early.
If the Silver and Black are still fighting for a spot in the season finale, that game in Denver could make another rough finish. The Broncos are no strangers to upsetting the Raiders’ postseason chances.
Final thoughts about the 2020 Las Vegas Raiders
Looking at the Raiders schedule, they have a good chance of matching their first-half run and finishing with a 10-6 record. With the new playoff format, that should be enough for one of the three wild card spots. At the start of the season, most odds-makers were giving the Raiders a 20 to 30 percent chance of making it to the postseason.
They should be around 50 percent, but I would push them higher and give them a 75% chance, simply because of the third wild card spot and have already beaten one of the other hunters. The Baltimore Ravens or the Pittsburgh Steelers will most likely lock up the top wild-card spot. Raiders hold the cards for one of the other two.
Here is a breakdown of all the AFC teams, their overall and conference records, remaining opponents, and my predictions for final records and playoff placement.
I hope the Raiders like playing in the snow, because the road to playoffs, and through them, are in places like Denver, Buffalo, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh. If it goes down as I hope and believe it should, the Silver and Black will be venturing to Buffalo for wildcard weekend.
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Top Photo: Rick Scuteri/Associated Press