It has come to this:
After losing three straight games, including an ugly home performance against the Lions Sunday in which they blew a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Raiders could watch their playoff hopes disappear Saturday with another loss at Arrowhead Stadium.
A loss against the Chiefs in Kansas City, coupled with victories by either the Jets or Bengals, would mean Oakland would lose its shot at the AFC West title or an AFC wild-card berth.
At 7-7, the Raiders aren’t dead yet. Two wins, against the Chiefs and the Chargers in the season finale on Jan. 1, would still give them a shot at slipping into the postseason at 9-7.
But lose Saturday and the Raiders’ hopes are all but shot.
Head coach Hue Jackson, ever the optimist, believes his team can rebound in Kansas City, which still has much to play for. At 6-8, the Chiefs – who beat previously unbeaten Green Bay last week after head coach Todd Haley was fired -- still have an outside shot at a playoff spot under interim head coach Romeo Crennel.
“We’re not out of this thing yet,” Jackson told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. “I still feel that way. This team is going to fight.”
His team may be fighting a bit shorthanded, however. Running back Darren McFadden is out yet again and may not be back this season. Also not practicing Wednesday were receivers Jacoby Ford and Louis Murphy and safety Michael Huff.
Huff and Murphy may play Saturday, Jackson said. He also noted that running back Michael Bush, who’s stepped in for McFadden, now has a sore shoulder, but likely will play.
Should the Raiders win their final two games while first-place Denver (a game ahead in the AFC West) loses at home to Kansas City in the season finale, Oakland will win the division title based on a better division record. If Oakland and Denver finish tied – but the Broncos lose to Buffalo and beat Kansas City – the Broncos would get the edge based on a better record against common opponents.
The Raiders’ wild-card hopes include the need for a combination of losses by the Jets, Bengals and Titans.
Jackson doesn’t even want to think about that.
“This is what I know,” he told reporters this week. “We just need to win. All that other stuff, I can’t worry about.”