Thank goodness the 2018 season finally came to an end. The beatings seemed endless in 2018, the Oakland Raiders lost 12 of their 16 games, including absolute floggings to the Seahawks, 49ers, Bengals, and the second game against the Chiefs.
Although the season was painful, this a very exciting time for Raider Nation as the team controls three first round picks in the 2019 NFL draft. Everyone’s favorite time of the year, Mock Draft Season, is just beginning. However, before diving into those, let’s take a look at the enemies for 2019.
The AFC West
The Raiders are currently playing in one of the elite divisions in football. Both the Chargers and Chiefs, played in the divisional round of the playoffs this year. Thankfully, neither team represented the AFC in the Super Bowl, as the heartbreak of the Chiefs winning the Lombardi Trophy would be too much for my heart to bare. Nevertheless, the Chiefs and Chargers will be more than formidable again in 2019, making the four match-ups with the two teams very difficult. The Broncos recently acquired Joe Flacco ensuring they will continue to strive for mediocrity. Although they boast a dangerous defense headlined by Von Miller, both games versus Denver should be very, very winnable.
The AFC South
In the upcoming season, the Raiders will face the AFC South. At home, wherever the Silver and Black end up playing, the Raiders draw the Tennessee Titans and the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Titans narrowly missed the playoffs in 2018, partly due to an injury to Marcus Mariota. The Jaguars returned to Earth after an abnormal run the AFC Championship game in 2017. The Titans will be as they have been the last few seasons, somewhere between slightly above average and mediocre. The Jags are still searching for a real QB as Blake Bortles was horrible in 2018.
On the road, the Raiders get to travel to face the Texans and Colts for bouts against playoff teams from the previous season. Both of these games are going to be tough ones for the Silver and Black, on paper at least. Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck can both sling it. The good news is the Texans defense could potentially lose Jadeveon Clowney to free agency. Maybe the Silver and Black make a run at the former No. 1 overall pick?
The NFC North
The Raiders get the NFC North in 2019. Of the four games, only one is truly a home game. The Lions game will be played at the Raider’s place in 2019. The other game slated as a “home” game is the Chicago Bears game, which gets played across the pond in London. The Bears were a field goal away from winning a playoff game this season. So, next season they will probably be pretty tough. This game is also interesting for another reason, but I can’t seem to think of it. And by the way, the last time the Raiders played in London the Seahawks bashed them. At least, the Lions game should be winnable, they were poor and very boring in 2018.
On the road, the Raiders get the Vikings and the Packers. Both teams missed the playoffs in 2018 but both are very dangerous. The Packers have Aaron Rodgers. I was gonna tag a link of Stephen A. Smith calling him a bad man but we, in Raider Nation, are mad at him right now. The Vikings were a playoff team until Kirk Cousins replaced Case Keenum under center. He was supposed to propel them to a Super Bowl contender but failed. Anyways, neither game will be a slam dunk, spoiler alert the Raiders won’t have any slam dunks in 2019, but neither team is that impressive overall.
The AFC 4th Place Finishers
For those of whom aren’t familiar with the NFL’s scheduling system. Every year each team plays 6 games against divisional opponents, 4 against another division in their conference, 4 against a division in the opposite conference, and 2 games against teams in their conference that placed in the same position in their respective division as them the previous year. This means the Raider get *drumroll* the Bengals and the Jets.
The Raiders play the Bengals at home in 2019. Last year, the Bengals pounded the Raiders with Jeff Driskel at QB. No matter, this should be a winnable game in 2019 Season, assuming the Raiders improve. The Raiders must improve from the 2018 form.
The Jets game will be in New York. The Jets just aren’t very good right now. They had a young QB in Sam Darold who didn’t look ready this season. However, he should be better in 2019. Nevertheless, if the Raiders want to go .500 or better, this game is a must win.