Mathematically, the Raiders’ playoff hopes aren’t dead. Realistically, those hopes are six feet under.
With their loss to the Cowboys Sunday night, the Raiders are 6-8 and two games behind the division-leading Chiefs with two games to go. As Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group reported, the Raiders could still get to the playoffs if they win their final two games, their AFC West rivals go winless, the Bills and Titans lose their final two and the Dolphins go 2-0. That would give 8-8 Oakland a wild-card spot as part of a four- or five-way tie.
But, this season never was supposed to come down to some wacky, far-fetched scenario. After going 12-4 in 2016, this was supposed to be the year the Raiders made a run to the playoffs and, possibly, the Super Bowl.
Instead, everything went wrong.
Quarterback Derek Carr didn’t play as well as he did last season, the offensive line wasn’t strong early, top draft picks Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu were injured, Amari Cooper took a step back, the hole at middle linebacker wasn’t filled until NaVorrow Bowman was signed and the team – which made a habit of late, exciting victories in 2016 – often fell flat in big games.
That happened Sunday night against the Cowboys, too, as Giorgo Tavecchio’s missed field goal at the end of the first half, a questionable call to keep a Cowboys’ scoring drive alive late in the game and Carr’s fumble through the end zone killed a last-minute scoring chance all added up in a 20-17 Oakland loss.
As Michael Beller of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback wrote Monday, the Raiders were shown to be a “flawed team” over the course of a rocky season in which four straight losses after a 2-0 start torpedoed their dreams.
This offseason could be full of moves to rectify problems. It should be interesting.
Still, however, the Raiders have two games remaining, beginning with a Christmas night matchup with the Eagles Monday. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m.