2021 NFL playoff picture: How Raiders can make the postseason, plus prediction for final five games

The Las Vegas Raiders have had to deal with more off-field noise than any other team in the NFL this year. First was the resignation of head coach Jon Gruden, and then the unfortunate decisions wide receiver Henry Ruggs III made that led to his release. Despite all of this, the Raiders are sitting at 6-6 and are not out of the playoff race just yet.

The Raiders got off to a hot start earlier this season, but have won just one of their last four contests. Their most recent loss came to the Washington Football Team on Sunday, 17-15, as Taylor Heinicke led a late drive to set up a game-winning field goal. It was a tough loss to swallow, but Derek Carr and Co. can’t blink with the Kansas City Chiefs next up on the docket. 

Let’s take a deeper dive into the Raiders’ playoff outlook by looking at their current positioning, their remaining games and a few things they will have to improve on in the coming weeks. 

Current playoff position 

The 6-6 Raiders are tied for last with the Denver Broncos in the AFC West record-wise, but are technically third due to their Week 6 win in Denver. The Chiefs (No. 4 seed) currently hold the division lead at 8-4 while the Los Angeles Chargers (No. 5 seed) hold the top wild-card spot at 7-5. The other two wild-card slots are held by the Cincinnati Bengals and Buffalo Bills. Both are 7-5.

Vegas currently holds the No. 10 seed behind the 6-5-1 Pittsburgh Steelers and 7-6 Indianapolis Colts. Ben Roethlisberger and Co. of course scored an important, 20-19 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday while the Colts blanked the Houston Texans, 31-0. The jury is still out when it comes to the Steelers’ potential, but they are still a team that can beat anyone on any given Sunday. The Colts appear to be a stronger postseason candidate, and are led by star running back Jonathan Taylor. 

The teams behind the Raiders to keep track of are the 6-6 Cleveland Browns,…

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