On Thursday night, the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2020 schedule was revealed. While the schedule in general looks manageable, there are some games that will likely be more difficult than they appear on paper.
Let’s be clear about how we define a trap game. This is a game that at first glance looks like a very winnable game due to a discrepancy in talent but is made much more difficult by outside factors such as timing, location, etc.
Here are three games on the Raiders’ schedule that might be getting overlooked but certainly shouldn’t be.
Week 3 @ New England 1 PM ET
Looking at the now Brady-less Patriots roster, they don’t seem to have the talent to keep up with the Raiders. Prior to this game, the Silver and Black make their Las Vegas debut on Monday Night Football against a tough New Orleans Saints team. Big games like this tend to pave the way for a letdown the following week. Also, it doesn’t help that the Raiders have a quick turnaround after the Monday Night game and have to travel across the country on a short week for an early game. Also, let’s not forget that this is still a stout Bill Belichick defense. If the Raiders sleepwalk through this game, it could be ugly.
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Week 11 @Atlanta 1 PM ET
Last season, the Raiders had a three-game winning streak derailed on a Week 12 trip to East Rutherford by way of a 34-3 shellacking at the hands of the Jets. The team never recovered from that demoralizing loss and went on to drop four out of their last five games and miss the playoffs. This year, the Raiders once again travel to MetLife Stadium on Week 12. The team will surely be looking for vengeance in that game. However, they should not look past the Falcons in Week 11. This might be easy to do with Atlanta currently flying under the radar and playing third fiddle in their own division to Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Nonetheless, this is another cross country flight for an early game, and it pits an unproven Las Vegas secondary against a high octane Atlanta passing attack. If the Raiders get too fixated on redemption in New Jersey, they might have their East Coast road trip spoiled before they get there.
Week 17 @ Denver 4:25 PM ET
This is a game that would normally be slightly better than a coin flip for the Raiders, but due to scheduling, it will be an uphill battle. In Weeks 14, 15, and 16, the Raiders play at home in a climate-controlled environment against relatively weak teams (Colts, Chargers, and Dolphins). Then, they have to leave the bubble to go to Mile High Stadium at the end of December in a game that could have playoff implications for one or both teams. That wouldn’t be ideal.
While these three games appear insignificant now, they will go a long way in determining how the upcoming season goes.
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Top Photo: Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press