Raiders' Playoff Hopes Aren't Dead Yet

Team needs a holiday miracle – several, in fact – but there’s about a 1% chance Jon Gruden’s team could make the postseason

Jon Gruden of the Oakland Raiders talks to quarterback Derek Carr.
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

A month ago, the Raiders were 6-4 and suddenly in the thick of the AFC playoff race. They’d won three straight games and the analytic website gave Oakland a 40% shot at a postseason berth.

With a victory against the New York Jets, Fivethirtyeight noted the Raiders’ percentage would shoot up to 50%. As Conor Orr of Sports Illustrated wrote on Nov. 18, the Raiders “are demanding our consideration.”

Then came four straight losses, starting with the Jets and including Sunday’s final home game in Oakland when the Raiders stumbled against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

At 6-8 with two games remaining, the Raiders now have about a 1% chance of making the playoffs.

But, it’s something. It’s not impossible.

The Raiders are set to go to Los Angeles this weekend to play the Chargers and then follow that up with a game in Denver against the Broncos. To get to the postseason, the Raiders need to win both games, while also needing two losses each by the 8-6 Titans and 8-6 Steelers and at least one loss each by the 6-8 Browns and 6-8 Colts.

If that happens, it would be a Holiday Miracle.

Certainly, a victory against the Jags would have helped – even if the odds would still have been long to get to the postseason. And, it almost happened. Though the Raiders lost 20-16, a crucial call was made against Oakland late in the game, with quarterback Derek Carr said to have gone out of bounds to stop the clock after running for a first down. Replays showed he slid in bounds, which would have allowed Oakland to run out the clock with two minutes remaining, securing a victory.

Instead, Jacksonville was able to march to a winning score. League officials apologized to Raiders coach Jon Gruden Monday. Gruden accepted the apology, but said the ruling took away a victory.

“Derek was in bounds and that play cost us dearly,” he said.

Sunday’s game against the Chargers is set for a 1:05 p.m. kickoff.

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