If the first sign of knowing you have a problem is admitting you need help, the Raiders are on the road to recovery.
"Let's be real. You've got to be a 49er fan on Thursday and a St. Louis fan on Sunday," Raiders coach Tom Cable said Monday during his weekly press briefing.
It's a necessary departure from the Raiders' season-long philosophy of taking care of their own business, given Sunday's 38-31 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Had Oakland not let a 10-point second-half lead disappear in a hail of big plays, the Raiders, by virtue of San Diego's 31-0 win over Kansas City later in the day, would have controlled their own destiny: Win out, win the AFC West.
Now, the Raiders (6-7) still must win their three remaining games, at home against Denver and Indianapolis followed by a season-ending showdown at Kansas City. But that's only step one.
Step two is that the Chargers (7-6) must lose one of their three remaining games, at home against the 49ers on Thursday night, followed by road games at Cincinnati and Denver.
Step three is for the Chiefs (8-5) to lose one of two games before they play the Raiders, at St. Louis or at home vs. Tennessee.
Any tie atop the AFC West would favor the Raiders because winning out would mean a 6-0 record within the division.
"We know what position we're in now," tight end Zach Miller said. "We need to win out, and that starts this Sunday. We're in control of our own fate. We know what the division looks like and what has to happen. All we can do right now is just win this week and we'll go from there."
Given that it was the closest thing the Raiders have known to a playoff atmosphere since 2002, a December game of actual significance in the playoff race, Cable hoped the experience would be of some benefit.
"It hurt, you could tell, from being around them and visiting with them after the game," Cable said. "But you've got to go through that when you're getting to where we're trying to go."
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