The Las Vegas Raiders currently sit at 3-3 this season, and while there is arguably some potential to this team, they always seem to lose when it absolutely counts. For example, they knocked off the Panthers and the Saints without much of a problem but were neutralized by the Patriots and the Bills in week three and week four.
Everything seemed to look up when Derek Carr and company knocked off the Kansas City Chiefs in a decisive matter. Unfortunately for Raider nation, those cheers were silenced the next week when Tom Brady and the Buccaneers ran roughshod over the Raiders in a blowout victory.
Now one wonders what Las Vegas' chances are of making the playoffs. If they somehow manage to squeak themselves into the playoffs, how will they fare against teams like the Baltimore Ravens, the Buffalo Bills, and the Seattle Seahawks?
Sadly, this year doesn't seem to be working out too well. Between getting blown out by the Patriots and the Buccaneers and losing a clincher to the Bills, there just doesn't seem to be a path forward for this team in the playoffs.
Pessimism aside, the Raiders currently stand with a +155 chance of making the playoffs and a –145 to missing the postseason altogether. This means that the Raiders are a favorite to miss out on the postseason and don’t really have a great chance of making it. This also means that someone could win some money if they were to bet on the Raiders making it and then the team doing so!
While odds are a decent enough indicator of what a team will do throughout the season, let’s try to look at other factors that might help us answer this question. For example, the Raiders' next game is against the Cleveland Browns, who have been doing pretty good this season and could be a big problem for the Raiders defense.
For the sake of argument, let’s say that the Raiders lose this game due to their defense coming unglued late in the game. This leaves the Raiders at 3-4 and at the mercy of the teams facing the Chiefs, the Broncos and the Chargers. Now, the Chargers are pretty much out of the running with a 1-5 record, but the same can’t be said for the Chiefs and the Broncos.
Fortunately for the Raiders, they'll face the Chargers the next week and have a good chance to even out their record. The team then faces the Broncos, who are struggling quite a bit themselves, and then it's another meeting with the Superbowl Chiefs. While it would be easy to give the Raiders a win here, it’s kind of hard to imagine that happening twice.
And this puts the Raiders at 5-5 with six games left to determine whether they will make the playoffs or not. Going forward, though, the Raiders will face some of their easiest opponents yet, including the New York Jets, the Miami Dolphins, the Los Angelos Chargers again, and even the Atlanta Falcons. They then finish with a matchup against the Broncos, which could really go either way.
It’s not out of the question for the Raiders to win at least five of the last six games of the season and qualify for the playoffs with a 10-6 record. Of course, that all depends on what happens with the Chiefs and if they can stay solid or not, but the Raiders might just skate into the playoffs with one of the easiest strength of schedules ever.