Raiders in the Playoffs…Why not?

On Sunday, Oakland lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and Terrelle Pryor played his worst game as a professional. Oakland appeared to be headed towards an upset in the first half until injuries began to mount on the offensive line and pressure on Pryor increased. The Chiefs win, as so many besides those dawning silver and black expected, no story there. The story is what happened following the game. In a post game interview, Pryor while accounting for his 2nd half mistakes uttered the words “playoffs” and initially I chalked this up to mere banter to uplift the teams spirit. Then I started to look at the road which would lead to a playoff birth and the results were a bit of a surprise.
Of the six playoff seeds, 4 will go to division winners currently New England, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver/KC. Oakland may be out of the running for divisional title at this point with the hot starts by Denver and Kansas City. Which leaves the wildcard route as the more fusible route. Currently those spots would be awarded to Miami and Kansas City. I could see Miami (3-2) losing┬áto the Patriots twice, the Bills or Jets once, the Bengals and either the Steelers or Chargers and finishing 9-7 at best. The Chiefs, I could see losing to the Broncos twice, the chargers once, the Raiders, the Colts and either the Texans, Bills or Chargers again and ultimately finishing 10-6. Thus the Raiders would have to at least go 8-2 over the remainder of the season to have a shot. Ten games and only two losses for a Raiders team? That’s crazy, right? Funny enough, “two” is the exact number of remaining games Oakland has against teams with a winning record. One is against the Chiefs which I still see as being winnable. The other is against the Broncos which ordinarily is a sure fire loss given Manning’s dominance this year, but the Raiders may be facing Brock Osweiler and 2nd stringers because this games falls in week 17 where the Broncos may already be looking at a first round bye and home field throughout.
The Raiders will begin to get healthy out of the bye. The offensive line will get its stud tackle Jared Veldheer back, possibly as early as week nine. Stefan Wisniewski, Menelik Watson, Miles Burris and Tyvonn Branch are all expected back soon as well. That’s at minimum four starters returning to a team which performed admirably in their absence. If the running game is ignited when the offensive line is in tact and the defense continues to play the way it has the last two games, Oakland can play with most teams in the NFL. The one advantage Oakland has over teams with similar records right now is that no one is pointing fingers in the locker room instead everyone wants to take the blame, these are the signs of a team building chemistry, trust each other and still believe in the system. If Oakland can string some wins together, confidence may grow and ultimately be the deciding factor in the remaining games. The road to the playoffs is quite a long one, but definitely not impossible.

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One Response to “Raiders in the Playoffs…Why not?”

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