Why Texans-Colts could have major impact on Raiders' playoff hopes

Why Texans-Colts could have major impact on Raiders' playoff hopes

Week 12 of the NFL season kicks off Thursday night with a marquee AFC South matchup that has massive playoff implications for Jon Gruden and the Raiders.

And they won't even be on the field.

Winners of three straight, the Raiders will be hard at work preparing to face the New York Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium while the Houston Texans and Indianapolis Colts face off at NRG Stadium.

Thanks to the Ravens' Week 11 demolition of Deshaun Watson and the Texans, the Colts slid into first place in the AFC South via the tiebreaker from an earlier win over Houston. That bumped Houston down to the No. 6 seed in the AFC and moved the Raiders down to the seven seed. 

The AFC South race is of paramount importance to the Raiders' playoff hopes. Assuming the Silver and Black don't catch the Chiefs in the AFC West -- which of course still is on the table -- the Raiders will be fighting with the Bills, Steelers, Browns and the second-place AFC South team for a wild-card spot.

Let's rewind to Week 4. The Raiders, fresh off being pantsed by the Vikings, rebounded to stun the Colts 31-24 at Lucas Oil Stadium thanks to the grit and resiliency that has become their trademark. 

Four weeks later, the Raiders had the Texans on the ropes at NRG Stadium, hoping to end their five-game road odyssey with another win over a playoff-caliber opponent. The Raiders held the lead for almost the entire second half, but Watson worked his magic late, throwing a touchdown pass after being kicked in the eye to give Houston the late edge.

When Derek Carr's pass down the sideline to Tyrell Williams fell incomplete to seal the 27-24 loss, Oakland's horse in the AFC South race became clear.

The Raiders need Watson and the Texans to win the division, knocking the Colts down the wild-card rung behind the Silver and Black thanks to that Week 4 win and removing a potential obstacle from Oakland's playoff path. If the Texans end up losing out in the division, the Raiders will have to finish with a better record in order to squeak past them, a feat that might prove difficult.

[RELATED: Doss enjoying 'unorthodox' journey amid inactive streak]

The Raiders still control their own destiny. Win Sunday against the Jets and set up a massive AFC West battle at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 13 with the winner taking over first place with four weeks to go.

But if the Chiefs begin to pull away and the Raiders are fighting for a wild-card spot, having the Texans not in the wild-card picture becomes very important.

No matter who wins Thursday night, the Raiders will slide back into the playoff picture with the loser falling out.

But what matters more, in the long run, is the Texans winning and going on to take the AFC South. That'll make the Raiders' playoff path much clearer.

NFL rumors: Chiefs could have forfeited vs. Patriots due to equipment mistake


NFL rumors: Chiefs could have forfeited vs. Patriots due to equipment mistake

After getting blown out by the Jets and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks, the Raiders need all the help they can get to make the playoffs. 

They almost got what would have been one of the weirdest breaks in NFL history Sunday. 

The 8-4 Chiefs are in Foxboro, Mass., to face the 10-2 Patriots in a key AFC clash. Kansas City can clinch the AFC West with a win, but some of the team's equipment was accidentally sent to New Jersey instead of to Foxboro, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday. 

As the Chiefs were unloading their gear Saturday, one container wasn't unloaded and instead made its way to New Jersey. That container had the equipment for 35 players. The Chiefs had to rush the equipment to Boston.

If had not made it to Gillette Stadium by kickoff, then the Chiefs would have had to forfeit the game.

But the equipment arrived in Foxboro about 90 minutes before kickoff, setting up a massive AFC battle between star QBS Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes. 

[RELATED: Why Waller is key for Raiders vs. Titans]

The Raiders, meanwhile, will face the 7-5 Titans in a must-win AFC battle at the Coliseum. A win would vault the Raiders back into the playoff periphery, while a loss would all but end their playoff hopes. The AFC West is in the hands of the Chiefs, but the Raiders almost caught a massive break. 

Related Content from TMZ Sports

Drake trolls Joel Embiid at Raptors game with championship ring
Myles Garrett appears at charity event after NFL suspension
Jerry Jones says he won't fire Jason Garrett during season
Carmelo Anthony FaceTimes son after huge game with Blazers

Raiders inactives: Josh Jacobs out for key Week 14 game vs. Titans


Raiders inactives: Josh Jacobs out for key Week 14 game vs. Titans

The Raiders enter Sunday's Week 14 game against the Titans in need of a win to stay in the playoff race. 

Unfortunately for the Raiders, they will be tasked with beating the resurgent Titans without rookie running back Josh Jacobs, who is inactive due to a shoulder injury. 

The Raiders are coming off back-to-back blowout losses and now sit in eighth place in the AFC. A win Sunday would vault them over the Titans and back onto the playoff periphery, while a loss effectively would doom their postseason hopes. 

Jon Gruden's club also will be without right tackle Trent Brown, who was ruled out Friday with a pectoral injury. Brandon Parker will get the start in place of Brown.

[RELATED: Why Waller is key for Raiders vs. Titans]

Here are the inactives for both teams: