ALAMEDA — The results required for the Raiders to make the postseason will make your head spin. The Raiders needed four games to go right on Sunday, followed by a victory over the Los Angeles Chargers in Carson.
Believe it or not, everything went according to plan. The Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, New Orleans Saints and Baltimore Ravens all won. So did the Raiders.
They’re still alive in the playoff hunt, now needing the Houston Texans, Colts and Ravens to win in Week 17. They’ve also got to beat the Broncos in Denver. All of those games kick off in the afternoon window. The Raiders need at least one of four teams to win in the morning window to secure a tiebreaker based on strength of victory.
In the meantime, the Raiders have to keep their focus. Coach Jon Gruden said working out playoff scenarios won’t be part of the practice week. They just have to roll the dice and hope their number hits.
“You can’t do that. You can’t control what’s going on,” Gruden said in his Monday press conference. “We’ve just got a lot of young players playing, we’ve been saying that from the beginning. We’re going to try and use this as an opportunity to unleash Isaiah Johnson a little bit and hopefully continue to develop our roster and our team and try to win games, and if we get some help that would be great. That would be awesome.”
Odds remain long, but there’s still a chance the Silver and Black enter the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“I mean, I can’t believe we’re still in it,” rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow said Sunday. “I’m thrilled. It’s unbelievable, really, if you think about it. We were talking before. We don’t have a great chance, but we have a chance. It’s kind of like playing poker when you have the pocket eights. We’re excited and it means nothing if we don’t go and take care of business next week against Denver.”
All seemed lost after the Raiders lost four straight games. They fell out of the AFC West title race and dropped way back in the quest for a wild-card spot. Somehow, however, the Raiders are still alive.
After all their setbacks this season, all they could hope for is a chance.
“Everything we’ve been through, let’s not sugar-coat it. We’ve been through a lot of crap, and it is what it is,” quarterback Derek Carr said Sunday after beating the Chargers. “Nobody cares at the end of the day, but we have, and to say that we’re still playing Week 17 for something is — that’s unbelievable. That’s really a good thing because I’ve been on teams in the past where we’ve been in those moments where we lose a couple games in a row, and we get down. This team never did that. To come here and beat these guys twice this year — that’s not easy.
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“Really, what we’ve been through and what our team has been able to accomplish — no one thought we could do that. Let’s be honest, no one thought we’d play Week 17 for the playoffs. Let’s just keep it real.”
A postseason berth would be a bonus after losing four straight, and Sunday’s an important evaluation tool no matter how things shake out. Coaches will see who steps up in a true must-win game.
“I mean, it was the same situation yesterday against the Chargers,” Gruden said. “We had some guys really step up big time. You watch Renfrow and Daryl Worley and DeAndré [Washington] and a number of other players that really did a good job. So, yes that is part of the plan.”
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