Las Vegas Raiders

Laying Out A 2022-23 Playoff Roadmap For The Raiders

Well, well, well. A month ago, the Las Vegas Raiders were largely considered down and out, and for good reason. The Raiders held a measly 2-7 record and even owned the fourth overall draft pick. There were absolutely no expectations for the team. Now, Las Vegas has won three games in a row and finds itself on the very fringes of the playoff race. So, what needs to happen in Week 14 to help fuel the playoff push?

Las Vegas Raiders beat the L.A. Rams

This one is obvious. It should go without saying, but Las Vegas will need to take care of business in their Thursday night matchup. Los Angeles will be missing a lot of key pieces this week, but the Raiders must not underestimate this team.

Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals Lose

These teams are far above Las Vegas in the playoff race. Each team stands at 8-4, which is three games ahead of the Raiders. However, some losses from these two in the final five weeks would really make things interesting.

The Baltimore Ravens play the Pittsburgh Steelers, while Cincinnati takes on the Cleveland Browns. Baltimore has had a much better season than Pittsburgh. However, the Steelers are on a winning streak of their own, and with quarterback Lamar Jackson battling injuries, this game is all of a sudden up in the air. Cincinnati is on a hot streak as well, and Deshaun Watson looked far from impressive last week. A Bengals’ loss here is unlikely, but stranger things have happened.

Miami Dolphins beat the L.A. Chargers

The Miami Dolphins share the same record as both the Ravens and Bengals, but in this case, the Raiders will be rooting for them. Why? The Dolphins play the 6-6 Los Angeles Chargers, who are the team just ahead of the Raiders. Assuming the Raiders win on Thursday, a Chargers loss would put both teams even with each other while keeping them just outside of the playoff picture.

Buffalo Bills beat the N.Y. Jets

The New York Jets currently hold the final wild card spot and are two games up on the Raiders. New York sits there with a 7-5 record, and with Las Vegas being multiple games behind them, the Jets are going to have to start losing some games if the Raiders want the chance to make it into the playoffs. The good news for the silver and black is that the Jets have been faltering of late. Inconsistent quarterback play has caused the Jets to lose two of their last three, making this race a lot closer than it was.

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Arizona Cardinals beat the New England Patriots

The final cherry on top this week would be the Arizona Cardinals knocking off New England. The Patriots are currently the eighth seed, which leaves them as the first team out of the playoffs. The 6-6 Pats certainly have more to play for than the 4-8 Cardinals do, which may end up being the difference in this one. Still, the Cardinals have been a bit unlucky this season and are arguably better than their record suggests. Las Vegas will be rooting for Arizona this weekend, and a Cardinals win could tie the Patriots and Raiders next week.

What next week’s playoff picture could look like for the Raiders

The odds of all of these games going according to this plan are slim to none. It would be very unlikely, but if this six-legged miracle comes to fruition, what would that mean for the Raiders?

Well, the Dolphins would jump both the Ravens and Bengals with a 9-4 record, leaving them three games ahead of Las Vegas. The Ravens and Bengals would both fall to 8-5, two games ahead of the silver and black. The Dolphins would be the third seed, with the Ravens and Bengals occupying seeds five and six, respectively (the Titans would own the fourth seed via being the AFC South division winner). They would not affect the Raiders’ seeding.

Now, here is where things get interesting. The Jets would finish 7-6, but they would still hold the final wild card spot. Then, the Chargers, Raiders, Patriots, Browns, and Steelers would all be 6-7. Chaos, right?

So, the Raiders would find themselves at 6-7, one game out of the playoffs. The Raiders would hold a tiebreaker over every single team on that list except for the Patriots. Want to make this even more interesting? The Patriots and Raiders play each other in a week and a half. If the Raiders win that game, they’ll hold a tiebreaker over all four of those teams. This is way more fun than tanking, right?

*Top Photo: Las Vegas Sun/Christopher DeVargas

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