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AFC playoff race standings: Raiders now one game back in AFC West, control their own destiny

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Some key losses and the Raiders win put their future in their hands.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

The season was slipping away week by week as the Raiders watched playoff race opponents fall but couldn’t capitalize. With only 6 games to go the Raiders desperately needed to get a win. Fortunately they got exactly that against a flailing Denver Broncos team that had lost 6 straight, now thanks to Oakland 7 straight.

Let’s take a look at how the 5-6 Raiders are faring in both their own division and in the wild card race.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (6-5)

The Chiefs started off the season red hot but have since lost 5 of 6 and are suddenly only 1 game ahead of the rest of the AFC West. Kansas City lost this week to the Buffalo Bills 16 to 10 in a game neither team seemed to want to win. Luckily for those watching there are time limits are these games and time mercifully ran out.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

The Chargers beat the Dallas Cowboys 28 to 6 on Thanksgiving, putting them in 2nd place of the AFC West. The Chargers hold the tie breaker for now against Oakland after beating them 17-16 in week 6. The Chargers have one of the easiest schedules to end the season and could be the real threat to Oakland for the West.

Oakland Raiders (5-6)

Oakland lost their first matchup with the Chargers 16-17 and will have a chance to even the series on December 31st in a game that looks now like it could determine the winner of the AFC West.

The Raiders win over the Broncos and the Chiefs loss brings them to within 1 game for the lead in the AFC West. The Raiders seemingly control their own destiny as they won the first match-up with the Chiefs and play them again in 2 weeks.

Denver Broncos (3-8)

The Broncos continue to reel and lost to Oakland 21-14 in a game that has dropped them firmly into last place in the West. The Broncos are in last place by 2 games and appear to be falling apart. Their season is over and they know it.

Division leaders

1. Steelers (9-2)

2. Patriots (9-2)

3. Titans (7-4)

4. Chiefs (6-5)

Wild Card Teams

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-4)

Taking turns with the Tennessee Titans atop the AFC South and this week it’s the Titans back in the driver seat. The Jags lost to the Arizona Cardinals on a last second Field Goal. The Jags would hold the top wild card spot for the AFC playoffs if the season ended today, good news is it doesn’t.

Buffalo Bills (6-5)

Taking out the Kansas City Chiefs 16-10 allowed the Bills to maintain their lead over Oakland in the wild card spot at 1 game. Oakland needs some help from one of Buffalo’s opponents to beat them. The Bills next play the Patriots so the Raiders may get that help real soon.

Baltimore Ravens (6-5)

Baltimore played Monday night against the Houston Texans and were able to pull off a victory after starting off slow. The Ravens won 23-16 over the Texans in a close game.

Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)

The Bengals were gifted a game against the still winless Cleveland Browns and won easily 30-16.

Los Angeles Chargers (5-6)

Same record as the Bengals but with a worse conference record (3-5)

Oakland Raiders (5-6)

Same record as the Chargers, but lost to them in their first meeting so currently lose the tiebreaker.

New York Jets (4-7)

The Jets lost their 2nd game in a row, losing to the Caroline Panthers 35 to 27 giving the Raiders a little breathing room. The result was exactly what Oakland needed to give themselves a little room for error in the race for the wild card.

Miami Dolphins (4-7)

Miami lost it’s 5th straight game to fall to 4-7 after losing to the New England Patriots 35 to 17. This helped the Raiders as they now are a full game ahead of Miami for the final wild card spot.

Houston Texans (4-7)

They needed to beat the Ravens Monday night. The loss drops them to distant third in their division with very slim playoff hopes.

Outlook

Oakland controls its own destiny. Win out and win the division. At worst Raiders will probably need to finish 4-1 to get into the playoffs and/or to take the AFC West. This team is far from fixed but they have enough talent to still believe in them, although any scenario where they beat the Eagles seems farfetched.

Their remaining opponents are the Giants, Chiefs, Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers.

Editor’s note: Levi Damien contributed to this piece