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NFL playoff picture: What does Raiders-Rams mean for AFC standings

The Raiders face the Rams in Los Angeles on Thursday to open Week 14. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of the field before the game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Detroit Lions at SoFi Stadium on October 24, 2021 in Inglewood, California. Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Rams kick off Week 14 on Thursday Night Football. It’s not an ideal matchup, but we at least get one team with some playoff incentive. The Rams have effectively shut things down for the season after placing Matthew Stafford on injured reserve, but the Raiders still have a shot at a playoff spot, even if it is a fairly faint shot.

Thursday’s game kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET on Amazon Prime Video and Las Vegas is a six-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Raiders playoff picture

The Raiders come into this game with a 5-7 record after securing a critical home win over the Chargers last week. Las Vegas is in third place in the AFC West, a game back of the Chargers and four games back of the Chiefs. They have virtually no chance of winning the division, but they’re only two games back of the seventh-place Jets in the wild card race. The 6-6 Patriots and Chargers sit between them and the Jets. With a home game against the Patriots coming up in Week 15, they have a big opportunity in front of them.

If the Raiders beat the Rams, they could climb to within a game of New York. And considering the Jets are playing a road game against the Bills, that is a very real possibility. If the Raiders lose, their season isn’t finished, but they really can’t afford to lose.

Tiebreaker implications

The common games tiebreaker is the third tiebreaker among division teams and the third among non-division wild card competitors, assuming there are at least four common games for the latter tiebreaker. The Raiders and Chargers are both playing the NFC West, so this could prove critical given Las Vegas and LA split the season series and are currently only a game apart in division record.