How Legitimate Is the Oakland Raiders' Playoff Shot?

Jeff SpiegelContributor IINovember 6, 2012

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Getty Images

One week ago, a look at the Oakland Raiders schedule offered a favorable and optimistic outlook of the team's remaining schedule.

With three wins in seven games, the Raiders were about to close the season out with seven games against teams at or below .500. All this in an AFC that has an abundance of teams that were still within striking distance of one of two wild card slots.

And yet, as any Oakland Raiders fan should know—just as soon as you think you know something about this team, the exact opposite is sure to happen.

Two weeks into the season, we knew exactly what this Oakland team was: bad. With a loss to San Diego at home in Week 1 and a blowout loss to the lowly (at the time) Dolphins, the Raiders were once again assumed to be a cellar dweller.

Week 3, however, was a surprise.

Trailing by 10 at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Raiders put together a sensational comeback to earn Dennis Allen his first career win.

All of a sudden, there was hope.

One week later, the hope had all but evaporated as the Raiders lost 37-6 to the Broncos.

And yet, one week later, the Raiders lost on a last-second field goal to the still undefeated Falcons, and the silver and black faithful once again had reason to believe in their team.

From there, the Raiders rattled off back-to-back wins against the Jaguars and Chiefs, two of the worst teams in the league, and all of a sudden, Oakland was back in decent shape.

Of course, once again the course was changed on Sunday as the Raiders blew a halftime lead to the Buccaneers, gave up 278 rushing yards and fell just short of a late-game comeback.

For the third time this season, the Raiders are two games under .500, which brings us to the question of how likely it is that this Oakland team could make the playoffs.

The answer: not good.

At 3-5, the Raiders sit in ninth place in the AFC, a full two games out of the two wild card spots behind Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Miami.

Sure, the Raiders will still face six teams at or below .500, but even if Oakland were to win all six of those games, nine wins just might not be enough.

As far as tiebreakers go, Oakland holds the tiebreaker over the Steelers, but loses the tiebreaker against Miami. With one game left against the Chargers, that tiebreaker is up in the air.

From here, I think a likely outcome is seven or eight wins from this team, a disappointing season, but one which won't be a total loss.

I think the Tampa Bay game at home was a must-win for the Raiders, and when Carson Palmer's late-game heroics were brought to an end with an interception on the potential game-tying drive, I think Oakland's playoff chances departed with the possession.

The good news in Oakland is that there's reason for hope, with a new staff and regime who has already established themselves as a fresh start from the past. General Manager Reggie McKenzie has shown he's a good judge of talent, both in free agency and the draft, and once he has some actual money to spend, the Raiders will be in good hands.

Dennis Allen has also shown some improvements over the course of the season, although he's going to need to continue to show improvement and control over this team in order to hold the faith of the Oakland faithful. Getting dominated in the third quarter by halftime adjustments won't be acceptable for much longer.

So yes, Oakland's chances of playing in the postseason this year are low. The future, however, might tell a different story.