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AFC Wild Card Race: Are the Las Vegas Raiders Going to Reach the Postseason?

Breaking down how the Las Vegas Raiders stack up in the crowded AFC Wild Card race after their Week 17 upset win and looking at the Raiders playoff odds.
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AFC Wild Card Race: Are the Las Vegas Raiders Going to Reach the Postseason?

In a way, it is so very fitting that one of the hardest teams to figure out from an NFL betting perspective this season has been Sin City’s own. The Las Vegas Raiders have been through the wringer both on and off the field. Nonetheless, a win over the Indianapolis Colts in Week 17 defied the NFL betting odds and has the Raiders on the verge of making the postseason.

The list of obstacles and distractions that the Raiders have had to overcome this season is endless. They unexpectedly lost their head coach to cancel culture as Jon Gruden became the fall guy for the NFL owners. Both of their first-round draft picks from a year ago are no longer on the team. They have had to sign guys off the street on what feels like a weekly basis to account for injuries on defense. Yet, interim coach Rich Bisaccia and the troops just keep soldiering on. 

Despite being separated by just one game in the standings, Las Vegas was more than a touchdown underdog to the Colts ahead of their critical Week 17 clash. Essentially, the Raiders have been playing with house money down the stretch of the season as a result of little to no expectations. Despite two interceptions from Derek Carr and over 100 yards rushing allowed to MVP candidate Jonathan Taylor, the Raiders once again defied the NFL betting odds. A 23-20 road win over the Colts improved Las Vegas’ record to 9-7 on the season. 

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While the Raiders will most likely be underdogs again next weekend when they host the Los Angeles Chargers, it seems pretty safe to say that their odds to make the playoffs are set to see a steep decline from where they stood entering the week. The table below shows an updated look at the AFC Wild Card standings following Sunday’s action. It also includes each team’s respective NFL betting odds to make the playoffs prior to Week 17.

TeamRecordOdds to Make the Playoffs (Before Week 17)
New England Patriots10-6-2000
Indianapolis Colts9-7-2500
Los Angeles Chargers9-7+163
Las Vegas Raiders9-7+750
Pittsburgh Steelers7-7-1+650
Miami Dolphins8-8+800
Baltimore Ravens8-8+215
Cleveland Browns7-8+400

The Raiders now occupy the 8-seed in the conference standings. Although tied with both the Colts and Chargers at 9-7, Las Vegas remains on the outside looking in as a result of losing to L.A. earlier in the season.

However, the loss to the Chargers is now the only blemish on the Raiders’ resume when it comes to how they have fared against fellow AFC Wild Card contenders. It just so happens that Las Vegas has played all of the teams in the odds table above head-to-head this season. Here’s a rundown of the results:

Week 1 — Raiders 33, Ravens 27 (OT)

Week 2 — Raiders 26, Steelers 17

Week 3 — Raiders 31, Dolphins 28 (OT)

Week 4 — Chargers 28, Raiders 14

Week 15 — Raiders 16, Browns 14

Week 17 — Raiders 23, Colts 20

Week 18 — vs LAC

Yes, the Dolphins and Browns were eliminated after Sunday’s games, but still, it adds to the effect. Bottom line: after beating Indianapolis, the Raiders now have head-to-head tiebreakers over every remaining AFC Wild Card contender except the Chargers. They’ll have an opportunity to exact some revenge on Los Angeles and lock up a spot in the postseason on their home field next weekend. 


Should the Raiders lose next week, they could still get into the playoffs by virtue of their clutch head-to-head wins. To do so, the Steelers would need to lose one of their final two games and the Colts would need to lose to their finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Considering the state of pro football in Duval County right now, Las Vegas had better be prepared to take matters into their own hands in Week 18. 

In conclusion, while there is still work to be done, the Raiders’ huge Week 17 win allowed them to assume control of their own destiny with respect to the AFC Wild Card picture.

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Henry has had a passion for sports that few can match for as long as he can remember. What started out as a five-year-old taking interest in the New York Jets and their green jerseys has since become a full-fledged career as a writer and sports betting analyst. His coverage primarily includes the NFL, MLB, NBA, NASCAR, college football, and college basketball. In 2020, he ranked among the top-10 most accurate experts ATS in the BettingPros NFL season contest. You can follow Henry’s sports work on Twitter and other social media platforms @HankTimeSports.


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