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Bills eliminated from playoffs with loss to Raiders

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Instead of dropping a bomb on the struggling Raiders (3-12), the Bills (8-7) saw their playoff dreams wither up and die on Sunday in The Black Hole. Here's what we learned from Oakland's 26-24 win over Buffalo:

1. What a letdown for the Bills. With an outstanding chance to stay alive in the AFC playoff picture, Buffalo crumbled against a less-talented team. Or are they? The Raiders are 3-2 over their past five games. It starts with a feisty Oakland defense that held the Bills at one point to five straight three-and-outs and completely erased Buffalo's ground game. Quarterback Kyle Orton brought the Bills to within two points on his 30-yard touchdown strike to Robert Woods with 1:09 left, but he also threw a pair of ugly picks and saw 10 of his 14 drives end in a turnover or punt.

2. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr showed off his big arm on a 50-yard post-pattern rocket to Kenbrell Thompkins in the opening quarter. The rookie doesn't have much talent around him, but Carr's 214 yards and two touchdowns were helped by a ground game that topped 100 yards for just the fourth time all year. Rookie runner Latavius Murray led the way with 86 yards on 23 carries and another 22 yards through the air. Even Darren McFadden had his way with Buffalo's front seven after defensive tackle Marcell Dareus left with a knee injury.

3. C.J. Spiller's return to action for the Bills was a massive dud. With minus-four yards off four attempts, the fleet-footed runner couldn't save a Buffalo ground game that accounted for just 13 yards on as many carries.

4. Buffalo's troubles on offense had plenty to do with Khalil Mack. The Raiders rookie linebacker was outstanding against the run and made plays all over the field. While Aaron Donald gets my vote for Defensive Rookie of the Year, Mack deserves credit for giving this Raiders defense some edge. His four sacks on the year -- including an earth-shattering drop of Orton on Sunday -- fail to describe how disruptive the rookie has been down the stretch.

5. Sammy Watkins opened up the scoring with an athletic 42-yard touchdown grab off a pretty pass from Orton. It was another peek at what Buffalo's rookie wideout offers this offense, despite his hot-and-cold season. Watkins finished with 75 yards on Sunday after just 28 last week. His seven games prior generated outputs of 122, 157, 27, 32, 35, 11 and 127 yards. It's worth noting that Watkins hasn't been healthy for much of the year.

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