The bye week is always the worst week of the year for football fans, and for the diehard fans of the Oakland Raiders, it’s doubly true this season. After sky-high expectations, the Raiders have gotten off to a rough start, winning only four of their first nine games. With a season-breaking game against the New England Patriots a week from today, the Raider Nation are doing their best math to determine who needs to beat who to make the road to the playoffs a little easier. Here is who the Raider Nation should root for during the bye week.
Who the Raider Nation Should Root for During the Bye Week
The New Orleans Saints vs. The Buffalo Bills
After the Oakland Raiders pulled off a monstrous must-win upset on Thursday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs, it appeared as if they had righted the ship. With cupcake teams like the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins on the Raider radar, it seemed like Oakland would have a winning record when they met the New England Patriots in Mexico City. However, that’s not exactly what happened. Blame a couple of bad fumbles, blame bad play-calling, blame the eastern time zone, but when the Raiders travelled the Buffalo, they lost, and they lost badly.
Right now, the Buffalo Bills are the sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture at 5-3, with a head-to-head win over the Raiders. For Oakland, the best bet is winning the division, but just in case, the Raiders need the wildcard teams ahead of them to fall apart, especially the ones that have bested the Silver and Black. Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are on a bit of a hot streak, so hopefully it continues against Tyrod Taylor and the Bills.
The Jacksonville Jaguars vs. The Los Angeles Chargers
Depending on whether or not you’re an optimistic or skeptical person, this is either a win-win or a lose-lose. The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently holding the fifth seed in the AFC playoff picture, so a loss for them would be good news for the Raiders, who are two games out of the post-season. However, the other team in this game is Oakland’s division rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, who hold a head-to-head win over the Raiders.
The Raiders would need a historical hot streak to make the playoff as a wild card team, so a loss in the division is slightly better than a loss to a wild card team. Not to mention, the Jaguars are currently trailing the Tennessee Titans by a half game in the AFC South divisional race, and the Raiders hold a head-to-head win over Marcus Mariota and company. If Tennessee were to lose a couple of games, and Jacksonville were to win the division, that tie-breaker against the Titans could come in handy for the Raiders down the road.
The New England Patriots vs. The Denver Broncos
Yes, as strange as it sounds, the Raider Nation needs to root for next week’s opponent. Firstly, and most obviously, they’re facing off against the Denver Broncos, a hated division rival that already holds a head-to-head victory against Oakland this season. But secondly, the New England Patriots are notoriously difficult to beat after a loss. Bill Belichick’s Patriots are 40-11 after a loss. That means that the Patriots have only lost two in a row eleven times in the last eighteen years. For perspective, the Raiders have lost two in a row three times in the last 11 games.
The Raiders are already set to struggle against Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and the vaunted Patriots offense in Mexico City. If they want to have any hope of stealing a win and saving their season, they’ll need all the luck they can get. Plus, a Denver win would mean the Raiders would no longer hold sole control of second place in the AFC West.