This season began with an appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” then evolved into an up-and-down regular season. At one point, the 6-4 Raiders looked like a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs. That was just before they spiraled into almost-irrelevance with four straight late-season losses.
But, with a whole lot of magic Sunday, the Raiders could surprisingly find themselves with an 8-8 record and a postseason berth.
The way this season has gone, it would be almost fitting.
But, the Raiders will need to beat the Broncos Sunday afternoon in Denver. Then, they’ll need to have Baltimore beat Pittsburgh, Indianapolis beat Jacksonville and Houston down Tennessee. It’s a lot of dominoes to fall into place, but it’s not impossible. According to oddsmakers, the Raiders have an 11 percent chance to pull it off.
Winning in Denver is always tough, but the Raiders showed in Game 1 this season they can beat the Broncos, having bested them in the season opener, 24-16.
But Denver’s team has evolved since then, winning three of its past four games and playing better on offense with new quarterback Drew Lock, who is 3-1 as a starter taking over for Joe Flacco.
“Obviously, you see arm talent and you see a young quarterback that is gaining confidence in the system,” said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, of Lock. “He’s being asked to do more and more every week. He shows very good athleticism. His touch and accuracy have been impressive. He’s got our attention, no doubt. He’s been impressive.”
Still, the Broncos are out of it. They can only play spoiler Sunday. The Raiders – impossibly – are still alive. Raiders players want to make the most out of their 11 percent chance at the playoffs.
Said rookie wideout Hunter Renfrow, to reporters this week: “I can’t believe we’re still in it. I’m thrilled. It’s unbelievable, really, if you think about it.”
Sunday’s kickoff between 7-8 Oakland and 6-9 Broncos is set for 1:25 p.m. The Raiders are 3½-point underdogs.