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Raiders: Let’s Play the Pre-Draft Schedule Game 

The wait is finally over, the NFL released its 2019 schedule and once again it seems as if the powers that be have conspired against the Raiders. Somehow after finishing last in the AFC West, the Raiders still have the hardest schedule in the league.

For the purpose of this exercise, we will play the schedule game twice, once prior to the draft and again after the draft.

The 2019 schedule features five 10 AM PST start times in a row and eight in total. For a west coast team to be playing only five games within the one o’clock hour is relatively unheard of. While the Raiders have nearly a month and a half in between home games at the Coliseum, the bulk of their away games come in the middle of the season.

The 2019 Schedule

Week one 09/09 7:20 PM

Monday Night Football vs Denver Broncos

Denver added a new defensive-minded head coach in Vic Fangio, a rebounding veteran quarterback in Joe Flacco, a new tackle Ja’Wuan James, Kareem Jackson in his tenth year in the league, and Bryce Callahan in the offseason to help boost the secondary.

They lost Brian Parker, Brandon Marshall, Domata Peko, Shane Ray, Darius Stewart, Jordan Taylor, Jerrol Garcia-Williams, Shaquil Barrett, Max Garcia, Matt LaCosse, Matt Paradis, Bradley Roby, and Billy Turner.

To make a long story short, the Raiders have won four of the last five games against the Broncos at home and this game should be no different. Raiders Win (1-0)

Week two 09/15 vs Kansas City Chiefs 1:05 PM

The Chiefs have left the Raiders seeing red in recent history. The Raiders have only won two games at home vs the Chiefs in the last five years. However, the winds of change have come to the Chiefs as well.

In an effort to create cap space, the Chiefs traded Dee Ford and cut Justin Houston. Meaning, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has to find a way to replace 22 sacks. Long time mainstay and cancer survivor Eric Berry was released and replaced by Tyrann “the honey badger” Mathieu.

Alex Okafor was brought in as well as Emmanuel Ogbah, Bashaud Breeland, Carlos Hyde, Damien Wilson, Blake Bell, Keith Reaser, and Jeremiah Attaochu. The Raiders offense has to ball out to match the Chiefs, advantage Chiefs. Raiders lose (1-1).

Week three 09/22 @ Minnesota Vikings 10:00 AM

The Vikings most pressing business was re-signing their own. In the offseason, they re-signed Anthony Barr, Brett Jones, Dan Bailey, Ameer Abdullah, Rashod Hill, Matt Wile, C.J. Ham, Anthony Harris, and extended Adam Thielen.

Free agency acquisitions for the Vikings consist of Sean Mannion, Jordan Taylor, Jordan Martin, Greer Martini, Karter Schult, Duke Thomas, Derron Smith, Dakota Dozier, Josh Kline, and Shamar Stephen. Vikings have focused on the offensive line and the defensive backfield.

Despite the signings, they lost Marcus Sherels, George Iloka, Sheldon Richardson, Trevor Simien, Nick Easton, Andrew Sendejo, Tom Compton, and Latavius Murray this offseason in free agency. The Purple People Eaters aren’t the feared defense they once were and should provide the first glimpse of just how well the Raiders will travel. Raiders win a close one, as the record sits at 2-1.

Week four 9/29 @ Indianapolis Colts 10:00 AM

The Indianapolis Colts fresh off a two-round playoff showing will be a very tough out for the Raiders. Andrew Luck is back amongst the league leaders in passing and the defense had a very good season in 2018.

With a relatively quiet offseason, the Colts acquired Devin Funchess and Justin Houston via free agency. The Colts had the fortune of being able to invest money on re-signing many players from their own roster.

Houston will provide an excellent additional outside rush to a defense which had eight sacks last year and features Jabal Sheard, Anthony Walker, and Darius Leonard. Raiders drop this one and fall to 2-2.

Week five 10/06 International game vs Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium London UK 10:00 AM

The Monsters of the Midway and the Raiders travel across the pond to jolly ol’ England for what shapes to be one of the most overhyped, melodramatic revenge games in memory. Nearly every writer will bring up the Mack trade ad nauseam.

What it really is shaping up to be is another big test for the Raiders offense. Most of the Bears offseason reflects on addressing the offensive line and the re-bolstering the defense. Adrian Amos was replaced by signing HaHa Clinton-Dix, and Buster Skrine was signed to be the nickel back.

Trading away Jordan Howard, was a head-scratching move, since the Bears opted to add Mike Davis to aid Tarik Cohen in the run game. However, signing Cordarrelle Patterson to replace the often injured Kevin White is a good move. Call me crazy, Raiders win (3-2).

Week six 10/13 BYE

Week seven 10/20 @ Green Bay Packers 10:00 AM

A new head coach, an injury-free Aaron Rodgers, and a whole lot of question marks. Roster turnover is finally happening and the Packers have finally made the decision to get younger across the board in the defensive ranks.

The name Packers and Rogers have struck fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators for years, but a new system, with new faces, breeds opportunity. By now the Raiders should be accustomed to playing at 10:00 AM. Raiders win (4-2).

Week eight 10/27 @ Houston Texans 10:00 AM 

The Texans made the playoffs last year and were defeated by the Colts in the wild-card round. Keeping quarterback Deshaun Watson upright is the main focal point of the offseason. Acquiring Matt Khalil, Seantrel Henderson, and Rick Leonard will greatly bolster their depth at offensive tackle.

Losing “the honey badger” and Kareem Jackson caused the Texans to need safeties, so they added Tashaun Gibson, A.J. Hendy, and ironless Mike Tyson. Bradley Roby and Briean Boddy-Calhoun were signed for corner depth and Jadeveon Clowney was gifted with the non-exclusive franchise player tag.

Five straight 10:00 AM start times and five different stadiums should have the Raiders prepared for the road. Texans have been extremely balanced offensively, but the Raiders vs Texans is usually a coin flip. Raiders lose (4-3).

Week nine 11/03 vs Detroit Lions 1:05 PM

Sweet lord have mercy… A HOME GAME! To quote the people’s champion “Finally the Raiders have COME BACK TO OAKLAND!” Six weeks and a bye later and the Raiders finally have an opportunity to play at home on a full grass field.

With that being said the Lions had a very active March.  They are a team trying to build their roster in the image of the New England Patriots by adding Danny Amendola and Trey Flowers. Offensively, they added eight offensive players including tight ends Jesse James and Logan Thomas, and C.J. Anderson gets added to the big power back committee, while Andrew Donnal and Oday Aboushi are the big bodies signed to the offensive line.

The Lions were led in receiving by a rookie last season and Matt Stafford has a lot on his plate off the field. After being gone away from the Coliseum for nearly two months the Raiders get the win (5-3).

Week 10 11/07 vs Los Angeles Chargers 5:20 PM

Thursday Night Football, the Raiders first trip back into primetime is against longtime rivals the Chargers. Phillip Rivers the timeless wonder seems to have another year added to his career every time he becomes a father again.

Being cap-strung this offseason has severely limited the Chargers ability to add and keep talent on the roster. The Chargers signed Cole Mazza, Thomas Davis, and Tyrod Taylor via free agency. The highlight of their offseason was retaining their own.

The biggest three moves the Chargers made were not picking up Jason Verrett’s fifth-year option, releasing safety Jahleel Addae and re-signing Denzel Perryman.

TNF is not favorable to the traveling team and the home team usually wins. Raiders win (6-3)

Week 11 11/17 vs Cincinnati Bengals 1:25 PM

Ten days of rest and relaxation before getting a chance to take on the Bengals is a recipe for success.

The Bengals have a first-time head coach in Zac Taylor. Previously, Taylor was the QB coach for the L.A. Rams last season during their super bowl run. The Bengals offseason was very uninspiring and one may infer they will be a player for a top five draft pick next season. Raiders win (7-3).

Week 12 11/24 @ New York Jets 10:00 AM
The Jets are another football team in the midst of transition as they welcome Adam Gase to be their head coach and Greg Williams as the defensive coordinator. 

The offense is going to be the major question mark. Quarterback Sam Darnold will be in his second year. Le’Veon Bell was the big splash and Anthony Barr was the fish that got away, however; Brian Poole, Chandler Catanzaro, C.J. Mosely, and Jamison Crowder round out a strong free agency class.

The Raiders have struggled when facing a Gase coached quarterback and offense. Derek Carr has yet to win a game when the temperature is less than 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Raiders lose (7-4).

Week 13 12/01 @ Kansas City Chiefs 10:00 AM

The second meeting, this time in Arrowhead Stadium. Carr has never won in Missouri and we have watched him have his worst games in the sea of red. The temperature most assuredly will be cold and the Raiders lose (7-5).

Week 14 12/08 vs Tennessee Titans 1:25 PM

A new offensive coordinator in Arthur Smith and a re-surfacing of Todd Downing (tight end coach) are the coaching moves leading into the offseason. The Titans traded for Ryan Tannehill and the writing may be on the wall for quarterback Marcus Mariota.

Investing into the offensive line the Titans signed Rodger Saffold, Kevin Pamphile, and Hroniss Grasu. The rest of the key additions consist of Kenny Vaccaro, Cameron Wake, Tye Smith, and Adam Humphries.

Titans offensive line should be one of the best in the league, and the two-headed monster of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis may prove to be too much for the defense. Raiders lose (7-6).

Week 15 12/15 vs Jacksonville Jaguars 1:25 PM

Old faces in new places pit quarterback Nick Foles against the Raiders. The Jaguars are in transition and looking to rebuild not only their line but provide a succession plan for Leonard Fournette.

The Jaguars signed Parker Ehinger, Leonard Wester, Josh Wells, Alfred Blue, Benny Cunningham, Tyler Shatley, Cedric Ogbuehi, A.J. Cann, Chris Conley, Geoff Swaim, James O’Shaughnessy, Jake Ryan, and Josh Lambo.

The Jaguars defense isn’t what it once was and the offense has been atrocious. If the passing game doesn’t flourish the Raiders will run away with this one. Raider win (8-6).

Week 16 12/21 or 12/22 @ Los Angeles Chargers TBD
The Chargers had the Raiders number for nearly the last three years. The last time the Raiders beat the Chargers on the road or at home was 2016. I predicted the Raider win at home earlier in the schedule, but they lose here on the road (8-7).

Week 17 12/29 @ Denver Broncos 10:00 AM

Invesco Field, at Mile High Point, in Denver Colorado. Snow, altitude, and Carr. The last Raiders win in Colorado was 2015. Flacco is used to winning in the cold, Carr isn’t. Raiders lose (8-8).

The Game

These picks are subject to change. We are playing the schedule game way too early, without the benefit of the draft or training camp, let alone the preseason. There is still plenty of roster turnover to come and surprising moves to be made. After a 4-12 season, the Raiders double their 2018 win total and look much more competitive than last season.

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