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NFL Playoff Picture, AFC Wild Card: The Raiders Inch Closer

The Oakland Raiders now sit two games behind in the wild card and division race. The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. The win vaults the 9-3 Steelers into first place in the AFC North and pushes the 8-4 Ravens to second place in the division and the wild card race.

For the Raiders, this was the desirable outcome. The Steelers would hold any head-to-head tie-breaker with the Raiders. The Raiders and the Ravens do not play this season. That would leave the tie breaker as the teams record in AFC play. As it is now, the Ravens have a half game edge.

The Ravens remaining games are: at Houston, vs New Orleans, at Cleveland and vs Cincinnati. If the Raiders were to make up the two game deficit, they would almost assuredly gain a better AFC record in the process.

The leader in the race for the wild card will be the loser in the New York JetsNew England Patriots Monday Night showdown. The loser will be 9-3. One of these teams is almost assured to make it. Stranger things have happened, but just one win would guarantee, at the very least, a tie.

The Indianapolis Colts loss to the Dallas Cowboys means there are no teams between the Raiders and the Ravens. At 6-6, the Colts and Raiders are joined by the Chargers and Dolphins. A feisty group, that will be ready to pounce on any slip by the Ravens. Of this group, the Chargers have the easiest schedule. Only one of their four remaining games is against a team with a winning record. That is next week’s AFC West showdown against the Chiefs.