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NFL playoff picture: Raiders' chances plummet as Chiefs win AFC West


NFL playoff picture: Raiders' chances plummet as Chiefs win AFC West

OAKLAND -- It was fun for the Raiders to talk about the playoffs while it lasted. 

That conversation is no more. 

The Silver and Black entered their Week 14 game against the Titans needing a win to jump back into the playoff periphery. The Raiders never got off the bus, though, as Tennessee blitzed Oakland 42-21 at the Coliseum. With the loss, the Raiders' third straight L, Jon Gruden's team falls to 6-7 and now is in ninth place in the AFC.

The Chiefs clinched the AFC West crown with their 23-16 win over the Patriots. They now are 9-4 and in third place in the AFC, one game behind the Patriots for a first-round bye. The Ravens (11-2) won again and are in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed. 

The Texans and Titans both are 8-5, but Houston currently holds the tiebreaker and is slotted as the No. 4 seed, while Tennessee sits in the No. 7 spot, just out of the playoff picture. The Titans and Texans will play two times in the final three weeks to decide the AFC South title. 

Despite the Bills' loss to the Ravens, Buffalo (9-4) still is the No. 5 seed and the top wild-card team, while the Steelers (8-5) are the six seed and the second wild-card team. 

[RELATED: Potential draft prospects for Raiders to target]

The Raiders' playoff hopes are all but extinguished now as the Silver and Black would need to win their final three games and hope Tennessee and Pittsburgh lose out.  

Three weeks ago, the Raiders were 6-4 and firmly in the playoff discussion. After three straight blow out losses, those playoff hopes are all but dead.

NFL playoff picture: Raiders' path to grabbing No. 6 seed in AFC


NFL playoff picture: Raiders' path to grabbing No. 6 seed in AFC

The Raiders were flying high two weeks ago, but they've come back down to Earth after back-to-back blowout losses to the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. 

With those two Ls marked on the ledger, the Raiders now sit at 6-6 and have gone from the No. 6 seed in the AFC playoffs to the No. 8 spot with work to do. 

Jon Gruden's club enters Week 14 with just a seven percent chance of making the playoffs, but where there is a will there is a way. 

With four weeks remaining in the NFL season, let's take a look at exactly what the Raiders need to happen to make the playoffs for the second time since 2002. 

Week 14

First thing's first: The Raiders have to beat the Titans on Sunday at Oakland Coliseum.

With a win, the Silver and Black's playoff chances go from seven percent to 15 percent. A loss to Tennessee puts the Raiders' postseason chances at less than one percent. Not ideal. 

Now, elsewhere Sunday, the Raiders would prefer Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals do what Baker Mayfield and the Browns could not and beat Devlin Hodges and the Steelers. A Cardinals win jumps the Raiders' playoff chances to 24 percent while a Steelers win pushes them down to 11. Even if the Steelers win, a Ravens win over the Bills would slightly increase Oakland's chances to 14 percent.

So a Raiders win, and losses by the Steelers and Bills for good measure would help. 

Assuming wins by the Texans, Colts, Browns, Patriots, Chargers and Ravens, the Raiders would exit Week 14 with a 16 percent chance to make the dance. 

Week 15

Once again in Week 15, the Raiders need to beat Gardiner Minshew and the Jags or else their playoff hopes plummet to six percent. With a win, they rise back up to 24 percent absent the other Week 15 games. 

A win by the Texans over the Titans, the Bills over the Steelers and the Saints over the Colts would see the Raiders head into the final two weeks with a 21 percent chance to make the playoffs. Getting better. 

Week 16

If the Raiders can go to LA in Week 16 and beat the Bolts, their playoff percentage jumps to 47 percent. A loss takes it down to 11 and almost certainly ends their season. 

A Ravens win over the Browns would jump the Raiders' percentage even further to 55 percent. Then, if the Jets can do to the Steelers what they did to the Raiders and deliver a loss to Pittsburgh, Oakland's playoff chances would sit at 86 percent. A Steelers win over the Jets drops them back to 27 percent. 

Even if the Steelers beat the Jets, the Raiders will not be dead. Wins by the Saints, Patriots and Ravens would take their chances up to 36 percent heading into the final week. A Steelers loss to the Jets would put them in the driver's seat. 

[RELATED: Is Justin Herbert future of Raiders?]

Week 17

Assuming the Steelers enter Week 17 having lost one of their last three games (vs. Cardinals, Bills, Jets), the Raiders would need to beat Drew Lock and the Broncos and then hope Lamar Jackson and the Ravens can knock off the Steelers. 

If the Steelers win, Oakland would need the Jets to beat the Bills (assuming Buffalo has lost two of three to New England, Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the previous three weeks). That would put Pittsburgh in the No. 5 seed and Oakland in the sixth, sending the Bills to do draft prep. 

All of this, as you have probably noticed, relies on a banged-up Raiders team beating Ryan Tannehill, Gardiner Minshew, Philip Rivers/Tyrod Taylor and Drew Lock. It's doable, but it won't be easy. 

Oakland needs to rack up the Ws and hope the Ls come for the Steelers, Bills and Titans down the stretch.

NFL history shows either 49ers or Ravens will play in Super Bowl LIV

NFL history shows either 49ers or Ravens will play in Super Bowl LIV

Ravens safety Earl Thomas seems rather confident his team will be participating in the Super Bowl come February, and if history tells us anything, he has a 50-percent chance of being correct.

Sunday's game between Baltimore and San Francisco will mark the third time since the NFL merger in 1970 that a team averaging more than 35 points per game (the Ravens) will face a team averaging fewer than 15 points allowed per game (the 49ers) in Week 13 or later. In each of the two previous instances, one of the competing teams advanced to that season's Super Bowl.

In Week 14 of 2007, the 12-0 Patriots, averaging 39.1 points per game, hosted the 9-3 Steelers, who were averaging 12.9 points allowed per game. New England prevailed 34-13 and advanced all the way to the Super Bowl, where the Patriots saw their perfect season ruined by Eli Manning, David Tyree and the New York Giants.

In Week 15 of 2012, the 10-3 Patriots, averaging 36.3 points per game, hosted the 9-3-1 49ers, who were averaging 14.2 points allowed per game. San Francisco raced out to a 31-3 lead at Foxboro and held on to win 41-34. The 49ers then advanced all the way to Super Bowl XLVII, where their dreams were dashed by the Ravens.

It's fitting then, that San Francisco and Baltimore meet on Sunday. The Ravens have the NFL's highest-scoring offense with an average of 35.1 points per game, while the 49ers have the league's best scoring defense, allowing an average of 14.8 points per contest. They've arguably been the two most impressive teams in the NFL this season, so it would not be surprising if either or both advanced to Super Bowl LIV in Miami.

[RELATED: Why Rice believes 49ers-Ravens will be Super Bowl preview]

But based on history, whoever wins Sunday will have a better chance of doing so.