Now that the 2017 season has officially finished, it’s high time to shift all the focus toward the upcoming season and see how things look for the Raiders in terms of how they stack up against their 13 opponents.
A lot is going to change for the Raiders and every one of their opponents between now and the regular-season opener in early September. However, there is plenty that can be extracted from what we know as of today.
For one, the Raiders play only three teams that made the playoffs in 2017 – the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers and Los Angeles Rams. All three of those teams lost their only playoff game in the season that just concluded with the Eagles beating the Patriots.
Not bad when you consider the Raiders played the Eagles and Patriots this season, and both away from the Coliseum.
A deeper dive into the Raiders schedule shows that three of the four games against 2017 playoff teams – remember, the Raiders play the Chiefs twice – are at home.
The good news doesn’t stop there.
The Raiders play a Cleveland Browns team that finished 0-16 and is 1-31 the past two seasons. Mani-pedis and double Irish coffees for everyone when Hubert comes to Oakland for that game.
They also play the Indianapolis Colts, who won only four games in 2017 and still aren’t sure whether quarterback Andrew Luck will be able to return anytime soon. It might not matter if Luck is playing or not, given this is a franchise that can’t even get it right when it comes to hiring a head coach (check the news about the Josh McDaniels fiasco from earlier today, if you’re not up to speed on this one).
Want more? Three of Oakland’s road games are against teams with major quarterback issues: Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals.
Carson Palmer announced his retirement, leaving Arizona with a new head coach and quarterback. Who knows whether Jay Cutler will be back with the Dolphins after he filled in for injured regular Ryan Tannehill. Or, if Tannehill is back behind center, whether he will be any better than before he was hurt. Andy Dalton appears to have peaked early in his career and no longer is a top-tier quarterback. All good news for the Raiders.
As long as we’re on the subject of quarterback issues, let’s lump in the Denver Broncos. They used Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch last season, but neither will be the starter next season if general manager John Elway has his way. For now, the Raiders are liking what they see here, too.
The Chiefs and Chargers figure to give the Raiders four tough games. Yet, even these games offer reason for optimism.
The Chiefs traded quarterback Alex Smith to Washington, which elevates second-year player Patrick Mahomes into the starting role. Regardless how talented Mahomes is, he’s going to have difficulty being as productive as Smith right away.
The Chargers’ Philip Rivers still puts up impressive stats, but he is past his prime and likely will have slipped even more by the time he faces the Raiders again. Don’t worry about the two wins against the Raiders in 2017.
If you’re looking for a major obstacle for the Raiders, look no further than their four games against the NFC West.
The Rams made a precipitous jump from 2016 to last season under first-year coach Sean McVay, and they look primed to challenge for the Super Bowl next season. The Seattle Seahawks still are a handful as long as they have Russell Wilson at quarterback and their star-studded defense. But, hey, at least the Raiders get the Seahawks in London and don’t have to play in the hellish Pacific Northwest conditions.
As for the 49ers, don’t be fooled by their 6-10 record. They won six of their final seven games, including the final five with Jimmy Garoppolo as the starting quarterback. Oh, and the 49ers have about $115 million in salary-cap space to bolster their roster.