Raiders Stats and Storylines: Week 16 Edition

I will date myself with this reference, but the best Christmas gift I ever received was one I didn’t even know existed: A regular, non-super Nintendo Entertainment System. I, like many other Raider fans of that era, spent countless hours that winter breaking every rushing record with Bo Jackson in Super Tecmo Bowl.

Unlike for young me, finding the best Christmas gift for the Raiders franchise is a difficult proposition.

On one hand, the Raiders winning out — and the right set of teams losing — would lead to the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2017. On the other hand, wouldn’t landing a new head coach be the better, more pragmatic long-term gift?

Let’s take a deep dive at what would be required to make either gift happen in this week’s Raiders Stats and Storylines.

1. Playoffs? You Talking about Playoffs?!?

The right foot of Daniel Carlson delivered a win against the Browns and, in the process, more than doubled the Raiders playoff odds, which now stand at 11%, according to The Upshot. A win this week over the Broncos would more than double them once again:

Much like last week, this week has the feel of a playoff game, with a loss all but eliminating the Raiders from post-season contention.

2. Where the Raiders Stand in the AFC Playoff Picture

The AFC playoff race is a crowded one, with 13 teams in the conference still alive, per Among those 13 teams, the Raiders currently rank tenth:

The Raiders, of course, beat the two teams directly in front of them — the Ravens and Steelers — earlier this season. And this Sunday, they get the opportunity to beat the Broncos a second time, which would effectively end Denver’s post-season dreams.

To truly move up in the standings, though, the Raiders will need some assistance.

3. What to Root for in Week 16

The most obvious — and controllable — outcome the Raiders need in Week 16 is to beat the Broncos. When your playoff odds are below 25%, however, you’re gonna need help. And these are the games that can most help the Raiders playoff odds, according to The Upshot:

Saturday Games:

  • Browns (+7.5) @ Packers: A Packers win would increase the Raiders playoff odds by 1%
  • Colts (+1) @ Cardinals: A Cardinals win would increase the Raiders playoff odds by 2%

Sunday Games:

  • Ravens (+3) @ Bengals: A Ravens win would increase the Raiders playoff odds by 1%
  • Bills (+2.5) @ Patriots: A Patriots win would increase the Raiders playoff odds by 1%
  • Steelers (+8.5) @ Chiefs: A Chiefs win would increase the Raiders playoff odds by 2%

Monday Night Game:

  • Dolphins (-2.5) @ Saints: A Saints win would increase the Raiders playoff odds by 1%

Six games over three days gives Raiders fans lots of scoreboard-watching opportunties.

4. Week 16’s Best-Case Scenario

Any gambler knows a seven-team parlay is incredibly difficult to hit.

For example, a parlay of all the teams the Raiders need to win (themselves, Packers, Cardinals, Ravens, Patriots, Chiefs and Dolphins) is currently priced at +4902, meaning a $10 bet would have a payout of over $500. The reason the payout is so large is because the implied odds are so small, clocking in at an even 2%.

For a gambler, hitting such a parlay is quite a score. And for the Raiders it’d be no different, as it’d be a real boon to their playoff odds:

This week’s best-case scenario creates a Week 17 scenario where the Raiders could improve their playoff odds to a very nice 69%. It’s a longshot, but every now and then Vegas longshots hit.

5. Week 16’s Worst-Case Scenario

For every best-case scenario there’s a worst-case scenario. I believe that’s Newton’s law of playoff forecasting or something. For the Raiders, the worst-case scenario is a loss to the Broncos, which would effectively eliminate any reasonable playoff path.

But there’s another not-great scenario, where the Raiders win but the aforementioned teams lose, which looks like this:

Looking at this chart vs. the one that preceded it, one thing is clear: While the Raiders need to win, making the playoffs will ultimately be out of their hands.

6. Playoffs Aren’t Only Outcome Rest of Season Will Decide

Ostensibly, the playoffs are the only outcome players and fans are currently focused on. The final three weeks, however, will likely decide more than just the team’s postseason fate. They will also decide the fates of three men: Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia, general manager Mike Mayock and quarterback Derek Carr.

Let’s start with Rich Bisaccia.

In EdjSports’ latest head-coach rankings, three AFC West coaches are in the top ten, while the Raiders coach is in the bottom five:

As recently as Week 9, the Gruden/Bisaccia pair was ranked in the top ten, meaning the ranking of 29 is a strong indictment of Bisaccia conservative decision-making and not a reflection of Jon Gruden’s coaching acumen.

Making the playoffs would therefore set up quite the conundrum for the Raiders: Would they keep the interim coach who was in charge when they got there? Or would they recognize that having a bottom-tier coach in a division of top-notch ones is a competitive disadvantage?

7. New NFL Rule Complicates an Already Complicated Situation

The Rich Bisaccia situation is even more intriguing this season due to recent rule change that would allow the team to interview head-coaching candidates starting in Week 17.

For the first time ever, “teams whose head coach at the beginning of the season is no longer in that position, or has been given notice that he will not return, are eligible to request these early, virtual interviews,” per

In other words, the Raiders and Jaguars potentially have a head start over the rest of the NFL in their search for a permanent head coach. And a head start could be crucial in landing one of the more-sought-after candidates, such as any of the below, who are likely to be coordinating playoff teams:

  • Brian Daboll, Bills Offensive Coordinator
  • Byron Leftwich, Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator
  • Kellen Moore, Cowboys Offensive Coordinator
  • Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs Offensive Coordinator

It’ll therefore be very interesting to see how the Raiders proceed if their playoff odds are in the 30%-or-lower range next week. Do they take advantage of the new rule and begin their search? Or do they wait until they are officially eliminated?

One would hope that they’d use every advantage they can to land a top-notch head coach, but regardless that storyline will be one of the more fascinating ones to watch.

8. Mike Mayock’s Future

I’m clearly on the page that Bisaccia would be a long-term hindrance for the Raiders’ goals. General Manager Mike Mayock, however, would be a murkier decision.

The person who hired him — Jon Gruden — is no longer employed by the team, he’s overseen a disastrous set of first-round picks and he’s handed out some questionable contracts. Judging by that criteria, firing Mayock is the obvious choice.

The quandary is that it’s impossible to decipher which decisions were Gruden’s and which were Mayock’s. Under Mayock, the Raiders have drafted mid-round gems (such as Maxx Crosby and Nate Hobbs) and he has represented the organization well during a season full of drama and tragedy.

Ultimately, the best solution is likely to find a head coach and let that person pick their preferred GM. It may be unfair for Mayock to be judged by Gruden’s decisions, but moving on may be best for the future of the Raiders.

That said, the Raiders making the playoffs could mean another term for the Mayock/Bisaccia administration.

9. The Annual Question

Ah, the annual question: Will the Raiders move on from Derek Carr?

It’s cliche to note that Carr is neither the problem nor the solution, but it’s also accurate. To wit, the below chart from Arjun Menon originally ran in this column’s Week 13 edition, so it’s a bit dated, but the point still stands. Carr has gotten little help:

What makes the question especially relevant this year is two-fold:

  1. Carr’s Contract: He has one year left and no dead money, meaning he’s both in line for an extension and very trade-able.
  2. No Jon Gruden: With a new head coach, will come a new organizational philosophy. Therefore, there will never be a more likely time to move on from Carr than this upcoming offseason.

Again, much like Bisaccia and Mayock, Carr could likely extend his stay with the team via a playoff berth. Especially since Mark Davis is rumored to make the decision on Carr before he even chooses the coach.

10. Best Outcome for Remainder of Season

For the last storyline, I’m curious what outcome fans are hopeful for: A playoff berth or their preferred head coach?

I realize these are not binary choices (especially if Bisaccia is your preferred coach, although I’m not sure who that would be). But sound off in the comments with coaching candidates, Carr’s future and/or thoughts on the state of the Raider franchise and I may feature or respond to some in next week’s column.

In the meantime, Happy Festivus to all who celebrate and happy holidays to those who don’t.

Twitter: @TravisGilkeson


6 thoughts on “Raiders Stats and Storylines: Week 16 Edition

  1. I prefer a playoff berth! Because once in the dance anything could happen, the Raiders get hot make a run and everything gets taken care of, coach, GM and QB remain! It’s called continuity!! Let’s Go Raiders!!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Sal! A playoff berth certainly would be exciting and there’s no denying that anything can happen in a single-elimination playoff. Happy Holidays!

  2. Seems to be a black or white attitude about Derek Carr. Depending on who is the lead dog after this season, the choice boils down to this: New Head Coach, new QB and new start OR new Head Coach and Derek Carr. Carr would be an upgrade at QB for about 20 teams in the NFL. So his trade value might surprise the haters. Who would possibly replace Carr? Make a list of potentially available players a new coach might want if Carr were gone. Aaron Rodgers? $50 says he ain’t coming to Las Vegas. Russell Wilson?? Maybe. His QBR is barely better than Carr this season and he’s older. His unhappiness in Seattle is because of the poor offensive line and defense. Boy howdy….the Raiders are really an upgrade….Snort 😆
    The 2022 draft doesn’t hold a lot of promise for a top tier replacement QB and besides, all rookies are gambles. So time will tell. If one imagines themselves in the head coaches office in Allegiant what would you do? Personally, I would keep Carr and look for a top offensive coordinator to replace Greg Olson and go from there.

  3. Dear Raider Nation: With all the scenarios mentioned, we must be honest. The Raiders are
    not a good team right now. And, a number of the Raider skilled position players are out with injuries. I don’t know if a playoff game is indicative of the failures of the Raiders. And until
    the failures are identified and corrected we will continue to fail and lose.

  4. If the Raiders cut bait with Carr without a clear and realistic plan to upgrade the position they, and fans calling for Carr’s head, will get what they deserve.

  5. The best run organizations have a GM that picks the coach. Giving a coach total power is usually a disaster.

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