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NFL playoff picture: Who to root for in Week 17 if you are a Las Vegas Raiders fan

Week 17 is here and the Las Vegas Raiders are still in the playoff picture. Who should Raiders fans root for to help their chances?

Las Vegas Raiders fan Pierre Gendebien, dressed as Elvis Presley, poses in the third quarter of the team’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium on December 14, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Las Vegas Raiders have been a mess for much of the 2023 regular season, but they’ve found some rhythm in December and still have a shot at a playoff berth. The Raiders stunned the Chiefs in Kansas City last week to improve to 7-8 and remain alive for both a wild card berth and the AFC West title. They are currently in second place in the AFC West and 11th place in the overall conference standings.

The Raiders will be eliminated with a loss in either of their final two games, so they have to win both games to have any chance at a playoff berth. They travel to face the Colts in Week 17, which is critical for the wild card opportunity. Regardless of how the Chiefs finish, if the Raiders can beat the Colts, they’ll climb past at least Indianapolis in the standings.

I did not include Patriots-Bills because even though Buffalo could still fall back into a tie with Las Vegas by the end of the season, the Bills have the head-to-head tiebreaker, so the Raiders cannot pass them. I also did not include Chargers-Broncos because Las Vegas have to win out and in doing so would be guaranteed to finish ahead of Denver.

They need additional help the rest of the way, so Raiders fans can keep an eye on the following matchups in Week 17 as they look to improve their playoff chances.

Result: The Raiders lost to the Colts and have been eliminated from playoff contention.

Bengals vs. Chiefs

Result: The Chiefs beat the Bengals.

This is an interesting one because either team losing helps the Raiders. If Cincinnati loses, Las Vegas would move into a tie with them and move ahead based on the conference record tiebreaker. That means the Raiders would climb to at least ninth place pending any additional help.

If Kansas City loses, Las Vegas would climb to within a game of the Chiefs in the AFC West but remain a game back of Cincinnati in the wild card race. The Bengals host the Browns in Week 18, which is a game they could very well lose. As a Raiders fan, I’d probably root for the Chiefs to win because the wild card seems more attainable, but either result helps them.

The Chiefs are a touchdown favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Steelers vs. Seahawks

Result: The Steelers beat the Seahawks.

The Steelers have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Raiders so it’s pretty simple. The Raiders need the Steelers to lose their final two games to move past them in the playoff standings.

Pittsburgh is a 3.5-point underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Titans vs. Texans

Result: The Texans thumped the Titans 26-3.

The Texans and Raiders did not face off, so it will come down to at least the conference record tiebreaker if they finished tied after Week 18. If the Texans lose either of their final two games and the Raiders win out, Las Vegas will claim the tiebreaker edge.

Houston is a 4.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.