Is it Week 14 already?
Maybe the lack of preseason had something to do with it, but we’re suddenly down to the final month of the NFL regular season. Following last week’s last-minute miracle in the Meadowlands, the Raiders are still in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.This weekend, eight of the AFC’s top nine teams will be pitted against each other in four crucial matchups.
Want to see the Silver and Black back in the playoffs? Here’s a viewing guide featuring the AFC teams and their current seeds. Remember, seven squads will make it to the postseason.
No. 7 Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at No. 8 Las Vegas Raiders (7-5)
When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m. PT
Who Raiders fans should root for: Duh
Raiders fans are trying hard to forget the first 59 minutes of that Jets game last week. Like Al Davis said, though, "Just win, baby!"
Josh Jacobs might be out for the second straight contest, but prized offensive tackle Trent Brown, all 6-foot-8, 380 pounds of him, returned to the practice field this week after missing the last seven games. They’ll need him against a menacing Colts defensive front that includes Justin Houston (three sacks last week) and former 49er DeForest Buckner, who is having a disruptive 2020 campaign.
Wily old Philip Rivers will be leading the Colts offense in his 29th career appearance against the Raiders franchise, tying his career high against any foe, along with the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos.
This matchup is also huge because it will decide head-to-head tiebreaker between the two playoff hopefuls, should they end the season with identical records.
No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs (11-1) at No. 6 Miami Dolphins (8-4)
When: Sunday, 10:00 a.m. PT
Who Raiders fans should root for: Chiefs
The Chiefs (11-1) have already clinched the AFC West, so the division is out of the question for Las Vegas. Might as well root for Miami to drop its fifth contest of the season.
Kansas City hasn’t looked dominant in recent weeks but the Chiefs have still won seven straight games since the Raiders left Arrowhead with a victory in Week 5.
News out of Miami indicates Tua Tagovailoa should be good to go on Sunday as he continues to work through a thumb injury on his throwing hand. The lefty totaled a career-high 296 passing yards in a Week 13 victory over Cincinnati.
But Patrick Mahomes is still, well, Patrick Mahomes.
It might feel icky for Raiders fans to root for the Chiefs on Sunday morning, so just tell yourself you’re rooting against the Dolphins.
RELATED: 2021 NFL mock draft
No. 1 Pittsburgh Steelers (11-1) at No. 3 Buffalo Bills (9-3)
When: Sunday, 5:20 p.m. PT
Who Raiders fans should root for: Steelers
Sure, the Raiders and Steelers could technically end the season with 11-5 records, but in all likelihood that’s not going to happen.
Pittsburgh is looking like the eventual AFC North champion. Likewise, the Bills are odds on favorites to win the AFC East, so this game between two potential division winners might not have much impact on the Raiders’ Wild Card hopes.
But would we be completely surprised if the Bills and Dolphins found ways to collapse down the stretch and tumble in the Wild Card standings, while the Patriots (6-6) sneak their way to another division crown? Never put anything past Bill Belicheck.
No. 9 Baltimore Ravens (7-5) at No. 5 Cleveland Browns (9-3)
When: Monday, 5:15 p.m. PT
Who Raiders fans should root for: Browns
Week 14 will wrap up with an intriguing Monday night matchup between AFC North foes.
At the moment, the Ravens and Raiders are tied record-wise, and the two teams outside of the playoff bubble looking in. Obviously, Las Vegas wants to make some space for itself heading down the stretch.
Nick Chubb rejoined the Browns in Week 10 and they’re a perfect 4-0 since, while the Ravens snapped a three-game losing streak with a 34-17 win over the Cowboys last week.
Raiders fans better hope that Baker Mayfield can outperform Lamar Jackson on the big stage in this one.