For most of this season, the Raiders have been right in the thick of the AFC playoff race. But they’re in danger of falling out of contention.
If the Raiders lose to the Chargers tonight, their chances of making the playoffs would fall to almost nil.
A loss tonight would drop the Raiders to 7-7, which would put them 2.5 games behind the Browns and Colts in the wild card race, 1.5 games behind the Dolphins for the final wild card, and 1.5 games behind the Ravens, who are currently behind the Dolphins in the wild card tiebreaker.
At that point, even winning their final two games (against the Dolphins and Broncos) and finishing 9-7 probably wouldn’t be enough to put the Raiders in the postseason. At that point, the Raiders would need a lot of help in the form of losses by the Dolphins and Ravens. And the Raiders would also lose a tiebreaker to the Patriots if both teams finished 9-7.
So for the Raiders, consider tonight a must-win game.