When the Oakland Raiders’ 2017 schedule was released last Thursday, the team knew they had mixed luck because of games against the AFC East and NFC East, along with the “prime-time showdown” against the New England Patriots in Mexico City. However, the calendar left a couple of extra blessings that could lead to another dominant season.
A Look Ahead
The Silver and Black will see their fair share of the prime-time spotlight this coming season. There will be five nationally televised games: One on Thursday (Week 7 vs. Kansas City), three on Sunday (Week 3 at Washington, Week 9 at Miami, and Week 15 vs. Dallas), and one on Monday (Christmas night, Week 16 at Philadelphia, part of three NFC East opponents in four weeks).
The good news is that the Raiders will face their toughest opponent of the season at home (sort of), as they’ll face the defending Super Bowl champions at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City in Week 11. Since this comes right after the bye-week, the Raiders will have two weeks to not only adjust to the altitude, but to develop a game-plan for Khalil Mack and the defensive line to get to Tom Brady and beat the Patriots for the first time since 2002 (four meetings) as well.
The easiest opponent of the year also resides in the AFC East. Since 1999, the Raiders have hosted the New York Jets eleven times, winning nine. With New York scrambling to find a competent quarterback (meaning a potential rookie starter), and a defense that’s sitting in tatters (28th in scoring defense, 11th in total yards in ’16). Derek Carr’s home opener and potential second game back from injury could be just what the Raiders need to keep an early season stride.
Overall, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see another double-digit-win season out west, which, given the state of the division, could be enough to secure the first division title since the Raiders won three in a row from 2000-2002. However, with the game in Kansas City looming in Week 14, it would be best for Oakland not to leave it up to facing the Chargers in LA to end the regular season. If that happens, well, history may just repeat itself (without the injury, we hope).