OAKLAND, CA - DECEMBER 19: Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders runs with the ball during their game against the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 19, 2010 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Darren McFadden
The good news hidden in Sunday's NFL results is that they've still got a solid shot at something better -- the AFC West division crown and their first trip to the playoffs in eight years.
The Jets' and Ravens' victories Sunday dictate that the AFC wild card slots will require at least a 10-6 record. The Raiders can now finish no better than 9-7, and the Ravens and Jets can finish no worse that 10-6.
Ergo, those wild card slots are now out of Oakland's price range.
But the Raiders can still win the AFC West. They're two games behind the Chiefs with two games to go, and just one game behind the Chargers. And they have that perfect 5-0 record in the AFC West that wins all tiebreakers should all three teams finish at 9-7.
Your mission, Raider Nation, should you accept it: You must beat the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday at 1:05 p.m. PST at the Oakland Coliseum, and then steal the division title from the Kansas City Chiefs on January 2, 2011, 10 a.m. PST at Arrowhead Stadium.
You must also rely upon the Chiefs losing to Tennessee in the hours just prior to this Sunday's Colts game, and you need the Chargers to drop at least one against doormats Cincinnati and Denver over the next two weeks.
In other words, win out, hope the Chiefs lose out, and hope the Chargers lose at least one.
And then order those tickets for a home playoff game at the Oakland Coliseum on January 8 or 9, 2011. Division winners automatically get home games in the AFC wild card round.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who loves it when they put NFL cheerleaders in inaccurately-colored Santa Claus outfits.