Raiders: What needs to happen for the team to make the playoffs?

Raiders (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Raiders (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Oakland Raiders are incredibly still alive for a possible postseason berth this season. Here is how the team could qualify for the playoffs.

It’s been a tumultuous, rollercoaster of a season for the Oakland Raiders. This fanbase has been taken on a wild ride through triumph and disappointment, but no matter how you slice it, the Raiders have a chance at making the playoffs in Week 17.

That alone has to be considered a win — especially given where this team was at the start of the year.

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Going into the season, the Raiders were widely viewed as the laughing stock of the league. The Antonio Brown fiasco helped overshadow any progress the team had made in the offseason and ‘Hard Knocks’ didn’t do them any favors.

Experts around the league had the Raiders pegged at 5-6 wins — only a marginal improvement from their abysmal four-win season a year ago. And while that seemed harsh, it was hard to argue given their 10 combined wins in the previous two seasons.

But the Raiders paid no mind to their doubters and exceeded all expectations getting off to a 6-4 start through 10 games. Suddenly, the playoffs seemed like a realistic possibility and even a probability to some.

But in true Raiders fashion, promise and aspiration quickly turned into heartbreak and disappointment.

Following a few close victories over subpar opponents, everything fell apart in a disastrous 34-3 blowout at the hands of the New York Jets. It was a devastating blow to what had been a promising season up until that point.

Subsequent blowout losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans followed by a loss to the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars seemingly put an end to what could have been a storybook final season in Oakland.

The Bay Area fans deserved better. Raiders fans deserved better.

But from the dead, the Raiders rose to semi-relevance with a glimmer of hope still left. They may be 7-8, but the team could still qualify for the postseason. And it’s not as much of a longshot as many might think.

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The Raiders need five things to happen this Sunday, but none of the five are exactly impossible.

For starters, the team needs to defeat the Denver Broncos in their season finale. They also need the Pittsburgh Steelers to lose to the Baltimore Ravens and the Tennessee Titans to lose to the Houston Texans.

Those are the three direct results that must take place. But the Raiders also need a couple of strength-of-schedule results to occur as well. First, they need the Indianapolis Colts to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Finally, one of either the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, or New England Patriots must win or tie their games for the Raiders to have the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker over Pittsburgh.

If all five happen, the Raiders are in — with an 8-8 record. The fact that this is even a possibility is miraculous, to say the least, and it’s definitely something that should be considered an accomplishment for this organization.

From overachievers to heartbreakers to possible miracle-workers, it’s been one wild season for the Silver and Black.

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And if a few things go their way, that season might not be over just yet.