Here’s what needs to happen for the Raiders to make the playoffs

Oakland Raiders

The Oakland Raiders, even after a four-game losing streak, still have a chance to make the playoffs with some help in Week 17

How wide open is the AFC Wild Card race with just one game left to play? The Oakland Raiders, who were booed off of their home field and had nachos thrown at them a week ago, are still alive heading to Week 17.

The Raiders, losers of four straight games entering Sunday by a combined score of 49-136, needed four things to go their way in Week 16 to have any chance. All four of them happened. They needed to beat the Los Angeles Chargers on the road, which they did, 24-17. Indianapolis had to beat the Panthers; they won handily, 38-6. The Saints needed to win against the Titans and did so 38-28. And, finally, the Jets had to beat the Steelers; they hung on to win 16-10.

Those results mean that Jon Gruden’s Raiders are still — barely — mathematically in the hunt for a playoff spot. But in order to do so, they need another four games to go there way.

The Raiders have to take care of their own business and beat the Broncos on the road in Denver. Then they have to hope that the Titans lose to the Texans and the Steelers lose to Ravens. Finally, the Colts need to beat the Jaguars. If all of those things happen, the Raiders will be playoff-bound.

Each team in that scenario would finish the season 8-8, with an identical conference record of 6-6. The Colts would jump over the Titans due to division record but lost to the Steelers in Week 9. The Raiders also beat the Colts, 31-24 back in Week 4, and have a better strength of victory than the Steelers. The Raiders would therefore leapfrog the other three teams and earn the sixth seed in the AFC.

Complicating the Raiders chances is the top of the AFC playoff picture. The Ravens and Texas have already clinched their divisions, with the Ravens locking up the No. 1 seed, and have little to play for in Week 17. Starters like Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson will likely see little, if any, playing time.

That the Raiders are even in a position to be playing beyond Week 17 is a stunning turnaround. Last Sunday, in the team’s final game in Oakland before moving to Las Vegas next season, they surrendered a 10-point fourth-quarter lead against the Jacksonville Jaguars marred by a blown call where the officials stopped the clock despite quarterback Derek Carr remaining inbounds. That allowed the Jaguars to get the ball back and score the go-ahead touchdown with 34 seconds left in a 20-16 win.

But Carr and the Raiders didn’t quit, and even without leading rusher Josh Jacobs managed to rebound and beat the Chargers on Sunday. “We’re in the middle of our process,” Carr said after the game.

It’s a long-shot, but the Raiders at least still have a chance to have their perseverance rewarded next week.

Next: The Bears really passed on Patrick Mahomes

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