ALAMEDA – The Raiders have kept playoff talk at a stiff arm’s length. Coaches and players prefer the ol’ one-game-at-a-time mantra, especially while working through a long season with the finish line well off in the distance.
Now a footstep separates them from a postseason berth, with math so simple the Raiders can’t avoid playoff talk.
Win and they’re in.
If their focus is always on winning the next game, it’s hard to avoid a Sunday game at San Diego that could provide playoff security.
“We want to be playing in the postseason, so we can give ourselves a chance to play for the big one,” running back Latavius Murray said. “It starts Sunday. We’re excited for that opportunity to continue playing later, into the postseason.”
A win Sunday would guarantee at least the final wild card spot. The Raiders still have the AFC West in their sights. They lost control of the division title on Thursday night in Kansas City, and now they need the Chiefs to trip over the final three games.
The Raiders hope to win out and lock in a top seed, but just getting to the playoff tournament is a monumental step. That’s especially true for a recently downtrodden franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002. This group isn’t battling history. They are firmly grounded, remaining in the present tense as often as possible.
A win on Sunday would accomplish a major mission, one these Raiders have been questing for this season.
“It’s always in your mind because that’s the goal,” edge rusher Khalil Mack said. “We want to reach the playoffs. It’s not easy to get there, and that’s the challenge. We’re trying to clinch a spot by any means. We’re working this week to get a win. That’s the goal for us.”