As some of you may recall in 2011 I kept everyone informed with lengthy posts and in-depth probabilities re: the Raiders playoff hopes as we went down the stretch in the season, listing who to root for/what we needed to happen to see our dreams of a PO run come true. As we all remember quite painfully, everything came together rather perfectly in the last two week in terms of the teams we needed to lose, lost, and the teams we needed to win, won. This put us in a position going into our week 17 game with SD with the chance ... oh, hell, you all know what happened.
My point is, when the Raiders lost 3 in a row in December, to end up at 7-7 after week 15 (after a 7-4 start), we honestly needed a LOT of stuff to go our way in order to find ourselves in a spot where our game in week 17 against SD would even matter at all. The tie-breakers involved, with so many teams competing for both the WC spots and the AFC West title ... stuff got CRAZY complicated to calculate ... but I did it for the benefit of the board here just the same.
I'm hoping to have cause to do that again this year, although frankly the odds are very much against it at this moment, as our beloved Raiders (4-7) trail 6 teams (all at 5-6, i.e. 1 game ahead) in the competition for the final remaining WC spot in AFC (the other one of which is a lock to go to the Chiefs or Broncos), with only 5 games remaining. Rather than controlling our destiny as we would've with a W over the Titans, we now need lots of help.
However, with the spirit of 2011 in mind, and remembering the fact that everything went our way to set up the CHANCE (despite the DISMAL 3 game stretch that put everything up in the air), to make the playoffs ... I shall endeavor to do the same this year, for as long as there's 'hope'.
Interestingly, with the correct outcome of exactly 9 games over the next two weekends ... the Raiders COULD EARN THAT TOP WC SPOT BACK by the end of NEXT Sunday, only 11 days from now! It's true, and I'm going to tell y'all how below!
Note: Although I'd be inclined to say that we are 100% done should we lose this weekend to the Cowboys, what would actually happen is that we'd go from like our current 1% chance of going, to like a .0005% chance. However we cannot technically be eliminated with a loss this weekend.
So, w/o further ado, here's the games we care about, in order of importance, aside from our HUGE W we're gonna pull out on Turkey Day to stay alive :)
The 5-6 team games ... all lead us by one game, but only 1 presently owns a head-to-head tie-breaker against us. This being the Titans, of course.
1) Titans (5-6) at Colts (7-4) - Preferred Outcome ... A no-brainer: COLTS!!! This one is real big, because the Titans are the only 5-6 team who presently own a TB over us. While this would SEEM to mean we must finish at least 1 game better than the Titans to get the WC nod, the vagaries of the TB rules when teams from 3 or 4 divisions are tied for one spot mean that there's a possibility we could 'go' over the Titans even if our records were identical. If such a 3 or 4 way tie happens, the TB MAY fall back to conference records and H-H doesn't count. However, the Titans are also presently 4-4 vs. the AFC, just like the Raiders. Ergo, this game is also HUGE for the Raiders chances. An AFC loss for the Titans potentially helps us a great deal. So again: GO COLTS!!!
2) Bengals (7-4) at Chargers (5-6) - Preferred Outcome: GO BENGALS!!! (obviously). Some interesting trivia about the WC spot ... when 2 or more division foes with tied records compete for a wild-card spot, all the 'divisional' tie-breakers are calculated FIRST (and they're a little different than the WC TB's), and the ONE team that's 'best' in each division will then make it to the 'next round' of tie-breakers against the teams (if any) in other divisions with the same record. Of course, if there are none in any other division, that one team gets the WC. Although it can often prove an 'academic' point, ending up 'ahead' of SD in terms of divisional position is in a sense the most important component of our 'chances'. We first must earn the #3 spot in the West before we can have any chance to be WC, IOW. Sadly, the Bengals are 2-4 on the road this year. Also sadly, SD plays 4 of their last 5 games ... within the friendly confines of Qualcomm.
3) Steelers (5-6) at Ravens (5-6) - Preferred Outcome ... a 3rd easy one here: Go STEELERS! There's two reasons for this, despite the fact that they're tied: a) We've beaten the Steelers already, so we have a potential TB advantage over them. Ravens we don't play, so no such deal, and b) ALL the possible 9 competitors for this last spot, the Ravens own the best Conference record at 5-4. Steelers are 4-4, just like us. We want the Steelers to end up the '2nd best' team in the Central division in terms of their divisional TB's, not the Ravens.
4) Dolphins (5-6) at Jets (5-6) - Preferred Outcome ... not too hard to reckon: Go JEST! The reason for this is simple: We play them next week. We have a chance there to earn a TB against them (and in fact, we MUST do so), whereas there's no such chance with teh Dolphins. Also nifty is that the Jets have by far the worse Conference record among the two. We want the Jets to end up the '2nd best' team in the North division in terms of their divisional TB's, not the Dolphins.
IF the Raiders win, AND all the above games 'go our way' (which frankly is NOT out of the question), we would move up to #4 in line for the spot overall from our current #7 spot.
Then, next Sunday, we'd have a chance to beat one of those 'leading' 3 teams in the Jets (6-6).
Another leader, the Steelers (6-6), would be traveling to Miami. A game we'd want them to LOSE in this present hypothetical scenario ...
The third team ahead of us (though also at 5-7) would be the Titans ... who are TRAVELING TO DENVER. Obviously we'd need them to lose
And if all THAT happened (talking about all of 9 games going our way over 2 weeks)? Guess what ... WE'D GET BACK OUR WC SPOT we thought we'd permanently pissed away last Sunday!
Although this is OBVIOUSLY a LOT to hope for happening, and it's all predicated on teh Raiders winning two on the Road in a row against fairly tough teams which is unlikely ITSELF, let alone all the other stuff ... Hey ... ITS NOT IMPOSSIBLE, and it's not like we're asking for the Texans to beat Seattle here. ALL these games COULD go how we want them to.
SO ... I'm going to keep hoping til hope is no longer possible!
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and GOOOOO RAIDERS!!!!