The Las Vegas Raiders will head into Week 17 still being mathematically alive in the AFC playoff chase.
But their odds are remote and there is likely a scenario they can be eliminated from playoff contention by the time they kickoff at home against the 11-4 San Francisco 49ers Sunday (the exact formula won’t be finalized until after Monday night’s Chargers-Colts game). Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. PT Sunday.
Yet, it seems like the Las Vegas brass may operate for the rest of the season as if their campaign is already done after they fell to 6-9 in a 13-10 last-minute loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Raiders first-year coach Josh McDaniels indicated to reporters Monday that he may make decisions on who does and who doesn’t play in the final two games based on health and contract situations.
.@Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said a lot of factors will be taken into account - both short-term and long-range - in deciding playing time over the last two games. That includes quarterback Derek Carr— Vincent Bonsignore (@VinnyBonsignore) December 26, 2022
It seems likely defensive starters, pass-rusher Chandler Jones and linebacker Denzel Perryman will be held out of the final two games. They were both injured in Pittsburgh. Jones suffered an elbow injury and Perryman separated his shoulder.
“I mean, I think there’s a lot of things that are going to go into that bucket once we kind of sort through after tonight,” McDaniels said Monday. “There are other things, too. I mean, we have guys – Divine [Deablo], is that worth playing, not playing coming off IR. The guys that got injured here this week or have some things that are nagging them. I think there’s a lot of things that you start to talk about relative to taking care of the people that are dealing with things like that. Injuries or contracts, what have you, I think you got to consider all that stuff. We just got back in this morning, so we’re going through the game. We’re going to coach the game and correct all the things that need to be corrected. The reality is, is we haven’t had any conversations about those things yet. And as we go through the next 24 to 48 hours, I’m sure we’ll sort through some of those things. But we’re aware of all those things, too.”
Of course, the biggest non-injury decision for McDaniels would be whether starting quarterback Derek Carr plays or not. It’s quite interesting that McDaniels has even indicated it’s possible Carr is done for the season.
If Carr is, indeed, done for the season, it would stoke the speculation that the Raiders will move away from Carr in the offseason. If he plays and suffers a serious injury, the Raiders may get stuck with him instead of being able to easily move away from him.
If Carr remains healthy or is put on the shelf, then none of this money becomes guaranteed until February 15th. #Raiders would have a dead money hit of just $5.6M if they trade him. https://t.co/VzvyCoCBLp— Tashan Reed (@tashanreed) December 26, 2022
So, this is a potential huge week in Las Vegas.