It may seem like the playoffs are an utter certainly for the Raiders who are sitting at 10-2, but that is still not a mathematical certainty just yet. In fact, based on how things happen on Thursday in Kansas City, there’s a wide range of potential scenarios.
Let’s start with the win scenario...
Should the Raiders beat the Chiefs Thursday, they would improve to 11-2 on the season, retain their top spot in the division and their top seed in the conference and in control of their own destiny for a first round bye and home field advantage throughout.
Raiders win plus the Dolphins loss (vs Arizona)
Raiders win plus the Broncos loss (at Tennessee)
Raiders tie plus Dolphins loss and Ravens loss or tie (at New England)
Raiders tie plus Dolphins loss and Steelers loss or tie (at Buffalo)
Now, if the Raiders lose...
A loss to the Chiefs would drop the Raiders to 10-3. The Chiefs would improve to 10-3, having swept the Raiders and therefore would take over the lead in the AFC West and the two seed in the playoffs (dependent upon a Patriots win).
Meanwhile the Raiders would tumble to the five seed as a wildcard. That would put the Chiefs in control of their own destiny for one of the two top seeds. Should they win out, the Raiders would be on the road in the wild card game to open the playoffs against one of the two division winners from the AFC South or North.
Quite turn change in fortunes.
The Raiders would also, of course, not clinch a playoff spot and should the Broncos win, they would be within a game of the Raiders in the division, which could raise the stakes in the season finale in Denver between the two teams.