The Oakland Raiders enter the bye with a disappointing 4-5 record. After getting off to a hot 2-0 start to the season with convincing wins over the Tennessee Titans and the NY Jets, the Raiders stumbled dropping their next 3 contests to the Washington Redskins, Denver Broncos and LA Chargers. They followed that with a surprise last play victory over the then league leading KC Chiefs to potentially save any playoff aspirations. But that game was followed by a clunker in Buffalo where the team was routed 34-14 after a second half collapse. Then last week’s win over Miami helped keep the team’s slim chance to see the postseason remain on life support. Now with a week off to prepare for next Sunday’s “home” game in Mexico City against the Tom Brady led New England Patriots the Raiders will be looking to climb back to .500 for the first time since week 4.
What are the chances the Raiders can overcome this early season slide to climb back into playoff contention? I’ll be honest it’s not looking good. With one of the most difficult schedules going forward the Raiders still have games against the aforementioned Patriots (6-2), league leading Philadelphia Eagles (8-1), the always game Dallas Cowboys (6-3), and another game against the Chiefs (6-3) in Kansas City. In a league where it has been said it will likely take 10 wins to make the playoffs the Raiders would have to go 6-1 to equal that win total. In addition to those 4 extremely tough match-ups the Raiders will also play division games versus the Denver Broncos (3-5) and LA Chargers (3-5) who they have lost to once each already this year, the only game going forward that looks like an easy win is against the NY Giants who at 1-7 are having an even more disappointing season than the boys in Silver and Black.
Is finishing the year 6-1 mission impossible? Hardly, for a team that won 12 games last year going on a run like this although unlikely is possible, but it’s also possible to make the playoffs with less than 10 wins if they win the right games. As it stands Oakland is in second place in the division, just 2 back of a Chiefs team that has dropped 3 of the last 4. If Oakland can win all 3 remaining divisional games it would give them a 4-2 record within the division including 2 wins over KC. This could go a long way in breaking any ties if the Raiders could match the final win total of their divisional counterparts. Another glimmer of hope is their week 15 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys who now look to be without star running back Ezekiel Elliott after his battle with the NFL over his 6 game suspension looks to be lost as his last appeal was overturned meaning the Cowboys will be without his services when they come to visit Oakland.
5-2 may not be out of the realm of possibilities and 9 wins may just be enough to steal the division and sneak into the playoffs after digging themselves into a first half hole. It all starts next Sunday in Mexico.