The Raiders had their chances to win the AFC West division but a few things happened along the way. Sebastian Janikowski and his three missed field goals cost us a win against the Arizona Cardinals. The offense couldn’t find the end zone against the San Francisco 49ers. The inability of Michael Huff to cover anyone in the Raiders recent defeat against the Jacksonville Jaguars. There were too many times when the Raiders gave up games that they should have won and now they need the help of others to get into the postseason.
How can that happen? They can get there if they end the season as the AFC West champion. But the road to the title has a lot of twists and turns starting with this week’s schedule:
TENNESSEE TITANS at KANSAS CITY CHIEFS: This is the “early morning” game for us on the West Coast and it won’t be on television here in San Diego. Everyone is picking the Chiefs to win, but the Titans are still mathematically eligible for the playoffs so they’ll be fired up to compete. The Titans won both of their last two road games in Kansas City (2007 and 2008) and it’s been forever since the Chiefs have played a meaningful game in late December. If the Chiefs beat the Titans, then they will eliminate the Raiders from the playoffs since they cannot get in as one of the two AFC wildcard entries. But if the Titans pull off the upset and beat the Chiefs then that’s when things get interesting.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS at OAKLAND RAIDERS: This is a “must win” game for the Raiders and the Colts are there for the taking. They have the fourth-worst defense against the run, which will allow Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, and Marcel Reece to have great games. The weather might be a factor, something that the Colts historically have problems with. There’s a 40% chance of showers in the Bay Area, and add a 10mph wind and that could wreak havoc on Peyton Manning’s passes.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS at CINCINNATI BENGALS: The Chargers have to lose one out of their last two games to let the Raiders control their own destiny. Why not this one? Antonio Gates is out with a lingering foot injury and the rest of the wide receiver corps is banged up. The weather will be a huge factor for San Diego. The high temperature in Cincinnati will be below freezing. The wind will be howling at 15mph and there’s a 30% chance of snow showers. That’s certainly not weather the Chargers are accustomed to playing in. The Bengals are also coming off a win in which they established their running game. It’s very possible Cedric Benson could carry the Bengals to victory in this cold weather game.
It’s not a fatal blow if the Chargers win. It only means they control their own destiny in their final game against Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos since the Raiders play the Chiefs next weekend. I’ll have more on that next weekend.
Assuming the Raiders win tomorrow, of course.