Raiders playoff chances: How Las Vegas can still earn AFC wild card spot after heartbreaking Rams loss

By | December 8, 2022

The Raiders’ disappointing roller coaster of a first season under coach Josh McDaniels continued in Thursday night’s shocking upset loss to the Rams in Los Angeles. Las Vegas is nos 5-8 overall after Week 14 and fading in the NFL playoff picture.

If the Raiders fall short of earning their second consecutive AFC wild-card berth, they can blame it on their 1-4 and 2-7 starts. The team also has an unprecedented and shocking 0-4 record when leading at halftime. The Raiders’ familiar inconsistency of 2022 also can be defined by the fact their three-game winning streak was sandwiched by bad losses to the Jeff Saturday-led Colts and Baker Mayfield-led Rams.

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Does Las Vegas still have a shot at the playoffs, despite the latest devastating defeat?

Breaking down what’s left of the Raiders’ postseason chances:

Where do the Raiders stand in the AFC playoff picture?

The Raiders (5-8) dropped from No. 10, now 1.5 games behind both the Patriots (6-6) and Chargers (6-6), to No. 12. They’re now also trailing the Browns (5-7) and Steelers (5-7) by a half game before all those teams play in Week 14.

Las Vegas also feel to 4.5 games behind Kansas City in the AFC West with four games left, confirming its elimination from that race. The Chiefs will clinch the division over the second-place Chargers on Sunday with a win over the Broncos or a Chargers loss to the Dolphins.

The Jets hold the final wild card spot going into Week 14 at 7-5. That team has a tough closing schedule is looking at finishing 9-8. The Raiders, now 2.5 games out of the No. 7 see, will need to run the table to have any shot.

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What playoff tiebreakers are in the Raiders’ favor?

The Raiders have a split against the Chargers and for now the better division record. Las Vegas also has a better conference record (4-5) than Cleveland (3-6) and Pittsburgh (2-6). The Raiders, however, lose that tiebreaker to the both Jets (5-4) and Patriots (5-3). 

What games are left on the Raiders’ schedule?

The Raiders are in must-win mode the rest of the way. Along the way, they can earn head-to-head advantages in games against the Patriots (at home) in Week 15 and the Steelers (on the road) in Week 16. Unfortunately, Week 17 brings a brutal interconference matchup vs. the 49ers on New Year’s Day. At least it’s possible the Raiders might get a break with the Chiefs resting key players in Week 18.

There’s nothing easy about what’s left for McDaniels’ team, with Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, Kyle Shanahan and Andy Reid looming on the other sideline after Sean McVay’s team just pulled the shocker.

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How bad are the Raiders’ playoff chances now?

The Raiders already were a longshot, 10 percent at best, before Thursday night. After the loss to the Rams, that number is in the low single digits.

This is Las Vegas, however, a team that has blown multiple near-certain victories and also pulled a few victories out of almost-sure defeats. The Raiders just need a Mayfield-like drive from their own 2-yard line to get the final AFC wild card.