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Can The Las Vegas Raiders Bounce Back and Make The Playoffs?

05 December 2020

Las Vegas Raiders

Heading into their Week 12 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, things looked up for the Las Vegas Raiders. Yes, they had just lost their fourth game of the season, which is not good, of course.

But they played well against an excellent Kansas City Chiefs team. Had they played like that against anyone else, they would have won with ease.

So, heading into their Week 12 game against the Atlanta Falcons, there was good reason for fans to feel confident about a win and the team’s playoff hopes. There was no chance of winning the division. But they could still make the playoffs—something the Raiders have only done twice since winning the Super Bowl in 2002

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But then the team struggled against the lowly Falcons and lost in epic fashion, 43-6. Now fans are feeling a sense of déjà vu—and they do not like it.

Last season, the Raiders looked like a team with playoff potential heading into their Week 12 matchup with the New York Jets. But then the 6-4 Raiders were handed a demoralizing 34-3 loss by the Jets. They went on to lose four of their last five and fall out of postseason contention.

This year, once again, the Raiders had a 6-4 record heading into Week 12. Once again, they suffered a 30+ point loss at the hands of a subpar team. What fans must be wondering now is if the Raiders will nosedive again like last year or if they will bounce back and still make the playoffs.

The Las Vegas Raiders Playoff Drive

At 6-5, the Raiders are now on the outside looking in at the playoffs. They are the No. 8 seed, but only a game behind the 6-seed Miami Dolphins and the 7-seed Indianapolis Colts. So, they have their work cut out for them.

It should not be too hard for the Raiders to get back on track this week against the lowly New York Jets. Then again, with Josh Jacobs and Jonathan Abraham sidelined with injuries, maybe the game will be more challenging than expected.

Hopefully, Jacobs will return soon, unlike when he got hurt and missed three of the team’s final four games (all losses).

But the Las Vegas Raiders are favored by 8.5 points against the Jets and will likely win by a lot more. However, they are probably going to be underdogs against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14. The Raiders will need to have Jacobs back if they are going to have any shot against the Colts. Even if he is back, they are far from a lock to win.

The Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15 is certainly a winnable game for them. They will need to contain Justin Herbert as much as possible, but even when he does have great days, most teams still beat the Chargers.

As for Week 16 against Miami, this one is tougher to call. The Dolphins seem to do okay no matter who they have at quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Tua Tagovailoa. Tagovailoa is more dynamic, but Fitzpatrick is a savvy veteran that knows how to get the job done.

This one could go either way.

But their regular-season finale against the Denver Broncos? If the Raiders do not win that one, they do not belong in the postseason.

The Raiders should finish the regular season with either a 9-7 or 10-6 record. Will that be enough?

So— How Should You Bet?

If the NFL had three wildcards the last five seasons, it would have taken eight or nine wins to qualify for the final playoff spot. Of their remaining games, the Raiders should win at least three (Jets, Chargers, and Broncos).

A 9-7 record could very well be enough to get in. But the Las Vegas Raiders will need either the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, or Indianapolis Colts to slip down the stretch as well. Someone must fall out for them to move up.

With games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, and the Raiders, the Dolphins could certainly be in danger. The Browns have three tough ones against the Tennessee Titans, Baltimore Ravens, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

But they could lose all three, beat the Jets and Giants, and still have a 10-6 record.

The Colts are probably not going to fall out of playoff contention, either. Three of Indianapolis’ last five are against the Texans and Jaguars. So, they will likely finish with at least a 10-6 record, if not better.

It will likely come down to the Raiders and the Dolphins for the 7-seed. If you put a lot of weight into the odds, go with the Dolphins; their odds are shorter (Yes -120, No +110; odds via WilliamHill). But the Raiders odds are not bad (Yes +120, No -140).

Betting Play: Las Vegas Raiders to make the playoffs.

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