It truly was the most unprecedented season the NFL has ever seen. The Las Vegas Raiders have been through it all, and yet they sit at 10-7 with the fifth seed in the AFC and a playoff game in a few days. Week 18 was nothing short of chaotic. Here were the biggest surprises.
They won out
It was not long ago that the Raiders sat at 6-7. Having lost five of their last six games, they looked to be completely out of playoff contention for a fifth straight year, but then, something finally clicked.
Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia grabbed a hold of his spiraling team and propelled them to a four-game win streak. Now, the Raiders haven’t lost a game since December 12 at Arrowhead and look to have found their own stride. It may be winning ugly, but it’s a stride nonetheless.
It seemed impossible for the Raiders to make the playoffs. They had to beat the Cleveland Browns, their AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos, and two teams that seemed destined for a deep playoff run. Despite all the odds, they won out and will face the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday.
“In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened,” Bisaccia told the media after the Raiders clinched their playoff berth.
The run game looked good
The Raiders’ offense hit a lull following the bye week. Their red zone scoring has been poor at best, but their biggest problem has been on the ground. Josh Jacobs didn’t have a 100-yard rushing game until Week 16 versus Denver, when something seemed to have changed.
Jacobs rushed for a career-high of 132 rushing yards in Week 18, doing a lot of the heavy lifting late in the game. Jacobs’ 10 and 7-yard rushes during the last overtime drive set up the game-winning kick for Daniel Carlson. “I’m the closer. Let me close,” Jacobs told the media on Sunday, referring to what he told his teammates during the game. Kolton Miller led the offensive line to be just strong enough on Sunday night. Their late-season improvement is evident, but it still leaves you longing for the days of a monster offensive line for Jacobs.
For much of the season, Raider Nation was convinced Jacobs had blown his chance for a contract extension this offseason. He had a tough, injury-filled year, but his late-season efforts may have earned him another look. Jacobs finished the season with 872 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
*Top Photo: Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal