James Jones: Raiders in 'must-win' game vs. Dolphins

It's Week 4.

We haven't even reached the quarter-pole of the 2014 season yet.

Yet, for the Oakland Raiders, Sunday's London-held tussle against the Miami Dolphins has veteran receiver James Jones playing the "must-win game" card.

"To me, it's a must win," Jones told CSN Bay Area's Scott Bair on Friday. "We got a lot of vets on the team and we know the percentages. You never know how the season is going to turn out, but when you go 0-4 it's hard to make the playoffs. This is a tough league to win in, so to me it's a must win. We've got go out here play our best game. We need to go back home 1-3 before the bye week."

Let's just toss it out there: Even with a win, the Raiders aren't making the playoffs.

Sure, 0-4 is a death knell; only one team in NFL history has ever come back from that start to make the playoffs: the 1992 San Diego Chargers. But even a 1-3 team historically has just a 14.5 percent chance to make the playoffs.

It's not just math that's against Oakland. An overall lack of talent and depth, as well as playing in the AFC's best division, will ultimately fork the Raiders.

So while Jones refers to the playoffs as to why he pegged Sunday a must-win game, in reality he could be doing so for a much different reason: saving his coach's job.

I've joked that the loser of the Raiders-Dolphins matchup should just leave their coach in London. While that won't happen (can it happen, legally?), the losing team's coach might strongly consider putting his house on the market.

The Raiders have shown improvement the last couple of weeks, but Dennis Allen must show that he has the team sailing in the right direction. Losing to a floundering Dolphins team squabbling amongst itself won't help.

NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported last week that it's still "too soon" for the Raidersto consider firing Allen. An embarrassing loss could push up the expiration date.

So perhaps Jones is right; for Allen, Sunday could be "must-win."

*We preview and pick every Week 4 game in the latest Around the NFL Podcast. *

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