A look at a closer-than-expected game in Oakland.
What it means: Oakland is still in the playoff race. Had the Broncos beaten the Raiders, Oakland would be out. The Raiders are 7-7. Other than their win Sunday, it wasn’t a great Week 15 for the Raiders. The two teams they are chasing in the AFC West -- Kansas City and San Diego -- both won. Oakland trails Kansas City, 9-5, by two games with two games to go and it trails San Diego, 8-6, by one game. For Oakland to win the AFC West, it will need to beat Indianapolis at home next week and win at Kansas City in Week 17, and it will need the Chiefs to lose next week at home to Tennessee. Also, it will need San Diego to lose once, either at Cincinnati next week or at Denver in Week 17. Oakland cannot make the playoffs as a wild-card. Denver is now 3-11.
Tomorrow’s talker: For much of the game, Denver rookie quarterback Tim Tebow was more effective than Oakland veteran Jason Campbell. But, Campbell made enough plays in the second half to allow Oakland to ran away from the Broncos in a game that was much closer than Oakland’s 59-14 laugher in Denver in October. Tebow had his moments in his first NFL start, including a 40-yard touchdown run. He showed there might something there with him as a starter. Campbell was awful in the first half. Again, he made some plays. But Campbell is playing for his Oakland future. He needs to be more consistent.
Trending: The Raiders were terrific on the ground again. They had 264 yards on 41 carries. Tailback Darren McFadden had 119 yards rushing. This is the best part of Oakland’s entire team and it’s a reason why there is hope for the future regardless if the Raiders makes the playoffs or not.
What’s next: The Raiders will have to find a way to beat the Colts, who are playing for their playoffs lives as well. Oakland is 0-5 against AFC competition outside the AFC West. It is 5-0 in the division. Denver ends the season at home against Houston and the Chargers. I couldn’t imagine Tebow not playing in front of the home folks in those two games.