It has been eight Seasons since we could write that headline. Oakland Raider Bloggers have gone through one of the worst losing periods in professional sports history. Seven season of 11 losses or more is unparalleled in NFL History and for the first time since the Great Super Bowl run of 2002, the Oakland Raiders will NOT lose 11 or more contests. Now, that doesn't mean that Tom cable should give them two days off, but, a small golf clap is in order.
Finally, we have a playoff headline in December, that doesn't read, "Oakland Raiders Officially Eliminated From Playoff Picture", heck those headlines were written in November most years.
Nope, this season we can talk NFL Playoffs!!! Thanks for taking care of the Chargers yesterday boys, because I now have a little faith re-instilled after the drubbings that you exposed us to in the prior two weeks.
At 6-6, the Oakland Raiders are Two games behind the Chiefs with four games to play. They are also tied with the Chargers, even though they do have the tie breaker over them for being 2-0 against San Diego this year.
So, what does this all mean?
Let's take a look at the remaining schedule and see just how the Raiders stack up against their competition and what chances they have to win the AFC West.
Oakland Raiders (6-6, 4-0 DIV) - @ Jacksonville, Denver, Indy, @ Kansas City
San Diego Chargers (6-6, 1-3 DIV) - Kansas City, San Fran, @ Cincy, @ Denver
Kansas City (8-6, 2-2 DIV) - @ San Diego, @ St. Louis, TENN, Oakland
At first glance I see that every defense that the Raiders will be facing from here on out is below average and some are flat out terrible.
The best run defense that will be facing Oakland is Kansas City and they allow 4.2 yards a carry (16th in the NFL). The rest are pretty far down, Denver (4.3 20th), Jacksonville (4.3 20th) and Indy (4.8, 31st).
The best passing defenses are the Colts and Chiefs, but neither is a really stout passing defense, and Denver and Jacksonville rank 30th and 32nd against the pass respectively.
Every team that they have left is flawed and can be beaten on any given Sunday by a Good Raider team and be blown out by the team that took the field yesterday.
To me, the number one key is the same key that spoke about before the Charger Game. This team needs to sell out as a running team and do things off the run, like play action passes and screens while NOT turning the ball over to let the defense get to work, make some plays and win the ball game. This team is built around running the ball and playing solid defense. Period. If they stick to that game plan, then the upcoming teams don't scare me too much. If they get tricky and get Jason outside of his comfort zone then they could be in trouble, but, I am going off the last game and saying that the Raiders can run the table.
My safe Prediction is 3-1 over the last 4, finishing at 9-7 for the season
I can easily see the Chargers bouncing back from yesterday's beating, although teams don't usually win the week after they play the Raiders, look at Miami last weekend as further proof.
IF San Diego runs the table then Oakland would have to follow suit, and IF they do, they'd win the tie-breaker.
There are a few potential snafus in the way before they run the table. Kansas City, for one, will not lay down, San Francisco will still be playing for the NFC West Division, even if they are 4-9 at the time, Cincy played the saints very tough this last weekend and don't think for one second that playing a Division Rival, Denver, on the road will be a cakewalk. That being said, they have the easiest schedule of the three teams.
This team that looked to be built on glue, bolts and duct tape has some how won more games that it's lost and finds itself at 8-4 and in full control of it's playoff destiny. Wins over San Diego AND Oakland will likely clinch the Division and see them playing a home game on January 9th.
Thank goodness that the two other teams they play are the Rams in St. Louis, who are having their own rebirth under 1st year QB Sam Bradford and will definitely be in the throws of a playoff push when KC arrives and Tennessee looks to be on a downside, but their defense keeps them in most games and if Chris Johnson can get his, then the Titans can upset KC.
In the craziest AFC West in recent memory, the Raiders could finish 8-8 or 9-7, winning all 6 divisional games and not win the Division. Kansas City can finish 8-8 or 9-7 and not win while San Diego goes 1-3 against the Raiders and Chiefs yet wins the Division. Now wouldn't that be an OUTRAGE?
Cheers and Go Raiders!!!