The New York Times has thoughtfully offered mathematical playoff hope to the Oakland Raiders, and to every NFL team whose nickname does end in "- x."
As in "x – eliminated from playoffs."
Now there isn't a lot other than mathematical hope for the Raiders. They have been among the season's most massive disappointments in nearly every area, taking last year's 12-4 record and well on their way to halving it this year.
But The Times has the math, and here it is in all its pedantic glory: (http://nyti.ms/2Aa8cof ).
Basically, what this little gadget says is that the Raiders have a 62 percent chance of being a playoff team if they win out against the Cowboys, Eagles and Chargers. In other words, they need to sweep for a slightly-better-than-coin-flip chance, exclusive of any other results.
But if they win only two of the three, their chances plummet to nearly zero, and actually hit zero if they lose to the Chargers.
And let's be honest here – missing the playoffs is probably what they deserve, given their level of play. They have been dominant only twice all year, against the Jets in Week 2 and Broncos in Week 12. We'd also throw in the Giants in Week 13, but that was the Geno Smith game, so slap an asterisk on that one.
The rest of the time, they have either won ugly, lost, or lost ugly, and even now give off a dim vibe compared to even two years ago, when they were a promising 7-9.
The big difference, of course, is that coming off a three-win season, a seven-win season looks like Mardi Gras, but coming off a 12-win season, people get to hear how badly they need to be fired.
The only reason why the Times is still not prepared to pitchfork them dead is the parlous state of the rest of the conference. After Pittsburgh, New England and Jacksonville, the AFC is double-paned with flaws. Quarterbacks who aren't injured aren't good, defenses that are mediocre are actually much worse than that.
In other words, they are in a gaggle of gaggers with five other teams, including Miami but not the New York Jets or Cincinnati. They may not be much to look at, but they're the view.
So play with this little simulator to your heart's content. You'll have hours of fun – and just as many hours of crippling despair. Just the thing to make the holidays jolly and blight.