Now that the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2022 schedule is out, let’s take a look at three possible trap games that Vegas should watch out for. Remember, these are games that might be more difficult than they appear on paper. This isn’t just teams that are really bad or really good; the timing of the game is a major factor.
Which games do the Las Vegas Raiders need to watch out for?
Week 9 at Jaguars
The first trap game on the schedule comes somewhat late in the season this year. This is mainly due to the high number of tough games that the Raiders will have had in the early going. After the Week 6 bye, things will start to slow down. A home game against the lowly Texans followed by a winnable game in New Orleans could lull the Silver and Black to sleep. That could be dangerous heading to Jacksonville for the back end of a two-game road trip. Oh, and don’t forget, that will have an early start due to it being on the East Coast.
The Jaguars are also a major wildcard this year. Yes, they were pretty bad last year. Yes, they made some baffling moves in free agency. However, they have a lot of young talent, including second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who should be significantly improved. Also, they replaced a dumpster fire of a head coach with a former Super Bowl champion. Who knows how much of an impact that will have? One thing is for sure, the Raiders need to show up for that game.
Week 12 at Seahawks
This road trip to Seattle is sandwiched right between two divisional games. The week prior, they travel to Denver to face a Broncos team that actually has a quarterback now. The week after, they will be hosting the Chargers in what will likely be a crucial showdown with playoff implications. So you have the possibility of a letdown and the possibility of looking ahead; it’s a bad combo.
The Seahawks were already a middling team last year, and they just traded away their best player in Russell Wilson this offseason. All signs point to them being one of the league’s basement dwellers this season. However, this is still a well-coached team with a lot of young talent. If the Raiders try to sleepwalk through this game, it could have nightmarish results.
Week 16 at Steelers
Yet another road trip to the eastern time zone. These games are always a challenge for teams out west because they throw the entire daily schedule off. Most pro athletes are highly regimented people with set routines from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed. It is difficult to turn your internal clock two hours forward. This can level the playing field against a team that you would normally be favored against.
After losing a franchise quarterback to retirement, and drafting his replacement in the first round, the Steelers would appear to be in a bit of a rebuild. While that may be true for the quarterback position, most of that roster is playoff caliber. By Week 16, a veteran coach like Mike Tomlin will be finding ways to win regardless of the quarterback’s play. This could spell trouble for Josh McDaniels and company, coming off a primetime game against the coach’s former team.
These are all winnable games, but they are also games that the Raiders must have. If they drop at least two of these games, it will be tough sledding for Las Vegas to make the playoffs.
*Top Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images