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The Raiders let their last slim chance at the playoffs slip away

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Hope was alive, barley, heading into Week 13. Not anymore.

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Update: This 34-game scenario shockingly didn’t happen

The Oakland Raiders can still make the playoffs. They won’t, though.

Even if Jon Gruden’s horrible first season in Oakland somehow ended with a five-game winning streak — including two wins against the Chiefs and another against the Steelers — the Raiders would still have a losing record.

The 2-9 Raiders can’t catch the 9-2 Kansas City Chiefs or the 8-3 Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West. But it’s still mathematically possible for Oakland to grab the second AFC Wild Card berth with a 7-9 record.

This season, Gruden has been the “this is fine” meme as the franchise burns down around him. So imagine the wonderful “I told you so” quotes we’d get from him if the Raiders finished on that kind of high note.

Will it happen? Absolutely not.

Not only would the Raiders have to pull off an inconceivable turnaround, they’d need a ton of help. Losses to the Colts and Ravens — each sitting at 6-5 — means most of the tiebreakers aren’t even on Oakland’s side. The good news for the Raiders is that they have a great shot at the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

But as long as the postseason is still possible, let’s dream it up:

Week 13

Week 14

  • Raiders beat Steelers
  • Texans beat Colts
  • Chiefs beat Ravens
  • Jaguars beat Titans
  • Patriots beat Dolphins
  • 49ers beat Broncos
  • Panthers beat Browns
  • Chargers beat Bengals

Week 15

Week 16

  • Raiders beat Broncos
  • Giants beat Colts
  • Chargers beat Ravens
  • Washington beats Titans
  • Jaguars beat Dolphins
  • Bengals beat Browns
  • Patriots beat Bills

Week 17

  • Raiders beat Chiefs
  • Titans beat Colts
  • Browns beat Ravens
  • Bills beat Dolphins
  • Chargers beat Broncos
  • Texans beat Jaguars

And that’ll do it.

Just a simple 34-step formula to giving us some Gruden grinding in January. There’s a tiny bit of wiggle room too — for example, the Bills don’t have to lose to the Patriots in Week 16. The same could be accomplished if they lose to the Jets in Week 14, instead.

But the “simplest” path to the playoffs is the list of results above. And I, for one, am booking the Raiders’ ticket to the Super Bowl right now.