Can Raiders Pull Off a Miracle Ending?

This season began with an appearance on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,”
then evolved into an up-and-down regular season. At one point, the 6-4 Raiders
looked like a team to be reckoned with in the playoffs. That was just before
they spiraled into almost-irrelevance with four straight late-season losses.

But, with a whole
lot of magic
Sunday, the Raiders could surprisingly find themselves with an
8-8 record and a postseason berth.

The way this season has gone, it would be almost fitting.

But, the Raiders will need to beat the Broncos Sunday
afternoon in Denver. Then, they’ll need to have Baltimore beat Pittsburgh,
Indianapolis beat Jacksonville and Houston down Tennessee. It’s a lot of
dominoes to fall into place, but it’s not impossible. According to oddsmakers,
the Raiders have an 11 percent chance to pull it off.

Winning in Denver is always tough, but the Raiders showed in
Game 1 this season they can beat the Broncos, having bested them in the season
opener, 24-16.

But Denver’s team has evolved since then, winning three of
its past four games and playing better on offense with new quarterback Drew
Lock, who is 3-1 as a starter taking over for Joe Flacco.

“Obviously, you see arm talent and you see a young quarterback
that is gaining confidence in the system,” said
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden
, of Lock. “He’s being asked to do more and
more every week. He shows very good athleticism. His touch and accuracy have
been impressive. He’s got our attention, no doubt. He’s been impressive.”

Still, the Broncos are out of it. They can only play spoiler
Sunday. The Raiders – impossibly – are still alive. Raiders players want to
make the most out of their 11 percent chance at the playoffs.

Said
rookie wideout Hunter Renfrow
, to reporters this week: “I can’t believe
we’re still in it. I’m thrilled. It’s unbelievable, really, if you think about
it.”

Sunday’s kickoff between 7-8 Oakland and 6-9 Broncos is set
for 1:25 p.m. The Raiders are 3½-point underdogs.

This post was originally posted at https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/sports/can-raiders-pull-off-a-miracle-ending/2206082/.

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