Raiders Playoff Scenarios, Chances, Seed Predictions: Las Vegas Matchup With Chargers on Sunday Night Football Is Do-or-Die
Chris Unger/Getty Images. Pictured: Derek Carr.
Sunday Afternoon Update
The Raiders have a very real shot of qualifying for the postseason, and they’d be by far the worst team in it.
That’s according to the advanced analytics, which regard Las Vegas as a below-average team.
The Raiders are 20th in offensive EPA per play and 25th at defense. They’re the 19th best offense and 23rd best defense according to DVOA.
And yet, here they are, with a chance to win and get in with a victory against the Chargers on Sunday Night Football.
The Raiders are now in with a win or tie against the Chargers.
In fact, they could’ve snuck into the playoffs before they even suited up tonight. With the Colts’ inexplicable loss to the Jaguars, if the Steelers had lost to the Ravens, the Raiders would’ve made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Instead, the Steelers won in OT and forced the Raiders to try tonight.
The Las Vegas Raiders are staring at a playoff opportunity entering Week 18, and they haven’t had many of those in the last 20 years.
A three-game winning streak has Las Vegas in position to clinch a playoff spot on Sunday, something the team has only done once since losing in the Super Bowl in 2002.
It’s a possibility that showed hope early, but the Jon Gruden saga in the middle of the season threw the team into a tailspin.
Through seven weeks, the Raiders were 5-2 with solid wins over the Ravens, Steelers, Dolphins, Broncos and Eagles. Derek Carr was leading the NFL in passing, and the offense put up at least 30 points in four games. However, after Gruden resigned after homophobic and misogynistic emails from years prior were leaked publicly, they lost five of their next six games.
At 6-7, the playoffs seemed unlikely.
But wins over the Browns, Broncos (again) and an upset over the Colts in Week 17 have given the Raiders a shot.
There are multiple ways the Raiders can clinch a playoff berth in Week 18.
The first is by beating the Chargers on Sunday Night Football. Just win and you’re in, baby. The Raiders can also get in with a tie if the Colts lose earlier in the day to the Jaguars. The final scenario is the Colts losing to the Jags and the Steelers losing or finishing in a tie with the Ravens.
According to our expert Travis Reed’s model — which helps power our NFL PRO Projections — the Raiders have a 40% chance of making the playoffs. He projects them to most likely earn the No. 6 seed if they qualify, with an outside shot at the No. 5 seed.
The last time the Raiders made the playoffs was in 2016 under Jack Del Rio when the team lost its first game. In fact, 2022 and 2016 are the only seasons since 2002 that the Raiders will finish with more wins than losses.