As the Las Vegas Raiders return from their bye week and begin December play, there are in a pretty simple situation: They basically need to win out to try to make the playoffs at 10-7.
The Raiders are buried in the AFC playoff picture, so their margin of error is slim. The Raiders, who have played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season and has played against several backup or weak quarterbacks, don’t have too bad of a remaining schedule. But all but one team has more victories than Las Vegas heading into Week 14. Let’s take a look:
Minnesota Vikings, 6-6:
The Vikings are dealing with spotty quarterback play and have had a lot of injuries. They are getting star wide receiver Justin Jefferson back this week. He’s been out since injuring his hamstring in Week 5. The Vikings are feisty and are pretty well-coached. Plus, they are in the NFC playoff mix. They will come to Las Vegas ready to fight.
Los Angeles Chargers, 5-7:
The Raiders close out their season series with their AFC West foes on a Thursday night. The Chargers beat the Raiders at home in Week 4. Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert has had a solid season, but he has struggled the past two weeks. The loser of this game will very likely be all but out of the playoff mix.
Kansas City Chiefs, 8-4
The Chiefs are struggling some as they have sandwiched losses between beating the Raiders in Las Vegas in Week 12. Still, expect the Chiefs to be fired up for this Christmas Day (it’s a dreaded 10 a.m. PT start for the Raiders) game against their division foe.
Indianapolis Colts, 7-5
Like the Chiefs, the Colts have a winning record. This will be the Raiders’ final road game of the season and it’s a New Year’s Eve 10 a.m. PT game. The Colts have a backup quarterback in Gardner Minshew, but their a scrappy bunch that may be playing for their playoff lives. A key may be the health of standout running back Jonathan Taylor. He is expected to be out another 2-4 weeks with a thumb injury. The Raiders game looms in just over three weeks.
Denver Broncos, 6-6
The Raiders end their season with a game against the team they faced in Week 1, a one-point Las Vegas win. The Broncos have been playing much better lately and this game possibly could mean something. The Raiders are looking to win their eighth straight game against Denver. The last time the Broncos beat the Raiders was in Denver in the final week of the 2019 season.
It’s one game at a time, but the Raiders must win, at the very least, four of these final five games if they want to have a chance to make the postseason.