The NFL regular season is still about four months away, but the end of the NFL draft in April and the schedule announcement in May built massive anticipation. Anticipation that can only be quenched by way too early season predictions for the teams we love, in this case, the Las Vegas Raiders.
Let’s take a look at the Raiders’ schedule
Don’t worry baby birds, the Raider Ramble is here to feed ya.
The Raiders may be last in the NFL’s most stacked division (according to the talking heads), but this is nothing new to us, is it? The Silver and Black have the chance to field the best offense in football while maintaining a competent defense at the very least. But the schedule is certainly stacked. Can Mark Davis’ P.F. Chang Gang make it back to the postseason?
Week 1: At the Los Angeles Chargers
Sept. 11th at 1:25pm
It will be nice to see the Raiders on the first Sunday of the year as opposed to Monday night. The wait is always the worst for me. But I digress. The Raiders visit the Chargers in Week 1, picking up right where the last regular season left off. L.A. went into the offseason with a ton of cap space and used it to fortify an already uber-talented roster, signing coveted corner J.C. Jackson and trading for Khalil Mack. My heart still weeps over that one.
This will be a glorified home game for the Raiders, but I question how this offensive line performs against a duo the caliber of Mack and Bosa. Couple that with a defense that may take a few games to get comfortable in new defensive coordinator Patrick Graham’s system, and the Raiders could struggle to keep Justin Herbert and company at bay.
Prediction: The Chargers get revenge to open the season.
Week 2: Arizona Cardinals
Sept. 18th at 1:25pm
This turns out to be an unintentional break for the Raiders. The Arizona Cardinals visit Allegiant for the home opener in Week 2 and will be without DeAndre Hopkins, one of the best wide receivers in football. The Cards did trade for Hollywood Brown during the draft, and quarterback Kyler Murray hasn’t left to play baseball in front of record low crowds in Oakland. The newly signed Raider, Chandler Jones, will be chomping at the bit to make life hell for the diminutive Murray after Arizona let him walk in the offseason.
If the Raiders have their heads on straight, they should pick up a respectable win against a quality opponent.
Prediction: Raiders take the home opener.
Week 3: At the Tennessee Titans
Sept. 25th at 10:00am
When Raider fans complain about Derek Carr, they should turn their attention to Tennessee and watch Ryan Tannehill go through the motions at the quarterback position. As long as Derrick Henry suits up for the Titans, however, they’re a threat to beat anyone. Couple his Thanos level of destruction in the run game with a defensive front that is fearsome in its own right, and the Raiders will have their hands full. With that being said, I think the Raiders stole this one solely due to the fact that the Titans arrogantly shipped out top receiver AJ Brown instead of paying him, opting to draft Treylon Burks to replace him.
Burks could very well replace the immense production provided by Brown, but it won’t happen as soon as Week 2.
Prediction: Raiders corral Henry enough to claim victory.
Week 4: Denver Broncos
Oct. 2nd at 1:25pm
The Broncos got Russell Wilson from the Seahawks in exchange for a few draft picks, a mediocre tight end, a good defensive tackle, and a white Jeezy impersonator who moonlights as a quarterback. This is the second Hall of Fame quarterback the Broncos have gotten in just over a decade.
Look, I get it. Wilson is a massive upgrade over what Denver has trotted out once Peyton Manning succumbed to a neck that mirrored Stone Cold Steve Austin’s post Owen Hart Piledriver. But were the ‘Hawks truly lacking in options and playmakers around Russ? Are Sutton and Jeudy better than Lockett and Metcalf? Will new coach Nathaniel Hackett be the wunderkind Aaron Rodgers talks him up to be?
Not in Week 4, he won’t.
Prediction: Raiders squeak out a fun one at home.
Week 5: At the Kansas City Chiefs
Oct. 10th at 5:15pm
The Raiders get their first primetime game of the year against the reigning division champions in Arrowhead. The good thing is that they get to avoid a late-season trip to K.C., something that has plagued Vegas over the years. The idea that an early-season game against Mahomes and Reid is a grand barometer for how good this Raider team is doesn’t compute for me.
A couple years ago, the Raiders went into Arrowhead and put on a show. I don’t recall that season yielding anything other than disappointment. While a great game here wouldn’t hurt in any way, it cannot shape our view of what this McDaniels-led unit can and/or will be down the line. Do the Raiders come out and assert their dominance, leaving the Chiefs in a heap on their way to a 4-1 record at the bye?
Don’t count on it.
Prediction: Pat accepts what the two deep zone gives him.
Week 7: Houston Texans
Oct. 23rd at 1:05pm
This is already a popular “trap game” selection. The Texans may appear rudderless, but there is no reason why Lovie Smith can’t turn this into a very pesky unit when the time comes. Is David Mills a franchise QB? Probably not. But they’ve got the makings of a solid offense around him and a defense that should be much improved.
It will be fun to see how Josh McDaniels looks coming off a bye week. My assumption is that the Raiders will look pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Prediction: Fam seriously, David Mills’ neck? Can we get a Sports Science on that?
Week 8: At the New Orleans Saints
Oct. 30th at 10:00am
The NFL loves giving the Raiders 10:00am start times in the Eastern time zone. This one comes against a Saints team that will be under the watchful eye of former Raider head coach Dennis Allen. It’s great to see Allen get another shot, especially with a team as well positioned as the Saints. Jameis Winston will decide how far this team goes, but with a defense that should continue to be one of the best in football and a receiving core that could be as good as any, the Raiders could run into some serious trouble in the Bayou.
Prediction: Jameis chews on another W.
Week 9: At the Jacksonville Jaguars
Nov. 6th at 10:00am
Count me in as a believer in this being a trap game in capital letters. The Jaguars have been a punchline since they failed to reach the Super Bowl a few short years ago. Trevor Lawerence may now have the supporting cast to make things competitive and the coach in Doug Peterson that could push things over the top. They won’t be world beaters, but they’ll be no pushovers.
All that said, the Raiders should have the firepower to make the difference in games like this one. McDaniels and co. allegedly elected to have this game follow the Saints’ matchup to keep the team on the east coast, avoiding the time difference. It should pay off.
Prediction: Fire Baalke already.
Week 10: Indianapolis Colts
Nov. 13th at 1:05am
Yannick Ngakoue will be waking up like a kid on Christmas come November 13th. The former Raiders defensive end was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to make room for Chandler Jones. The move reunited Yannick with Gus Bradley, the coordinator he’d had his best years with. The move was a win for all parties involved, but I guess we all need bulletin board material.
The Colts will be starting their third quarterback in three years, this time turning the reins over to Matt Ryan, the former MVP who has a Super Bowl appearance under his belt during his Atlanta Falcons tenure. Ryan might not be in his prime anymore, but he’s still an improvement over what Carson Wentz provided.
The Colts should come into this matchup with a great record and a ton of confidence. I fear the Raiders could come up short, but once again, the offense should save the day.
Prediction: Yannick won’t be happy.
Week 11: At the Denver Broncos
Nov. 20th at 1:05pm
This could be a game played in very nasty weather unless global warming has a say in it. By week eleven, we should know what the division pecking order is. Call me crazy (you wouldn’t be the first), but an ugly game suits the Raiders against Denver as well. If Josh Jacobs is the caliber of back he believes he is, he will be hungry to prove himself all year long, and this is the perfect game for that. If it comes down to the ground game, Las Vegas will have an advantage, and that’s just because half the roster space is currently allocated to tailbacks.
Prediction: Bring out the brooms.
Week 12: At the Seattle Seahawks
Nov. 27th 1:05pm
The Seahawks have truly become a conundrum. As much as they continue to deny it, all signs point to a white flag season with either Geno Smith or Drew Lock under center. Seeing as the 12th Man can’t physically suit up, it’s going to be a long season in Seattle. The Raiders should take advantage of the hapless ‘Hawks in convincing fashion.
Prediction: Pete might run out of gum.
Week 13: Los Angeles Chargers
Dec. 4th 1:25pm
The Raiders will be riding high on a four-game win streak when the Bolts come to town. I hate to say it, but I’ve got a bad feeling about how Vegas looks against Herbert this season. I think both games will be close, but the Chargers will win the season series and get bragging rights, even if only for a short time.
Prediction: Mack is Back Rackin’ Sacks.
Week 14: At the Los Angeles Rams
Dec. 8th at 5:15pm
No rest for the wicked here. The Raiders go from a heated divisional battle to a date with the defending Super Bowl champions on a short week. Count me in as a proponent of Thursday night games only being played by teams coming off of a bye week. McVay’s squad shows no signs of slowing down next season. They will bring back most of the title team and add Allen Robinson to the offense and Bobby Wagner to the defense.
No, I don’t know where the money came from either.
If given a full week of preparation, I would be more considerate of the Raiders’ chances. But alas…
Prediction: Rams win in the Raiders House.
Week 15: New England Patriots
Dec. 18th at 5:20pm
Nothing heals the wounds of a losing streak like a matchup against a team that can accredit their dynasty to screwing your franchise over. The Raiders will come off a solid layoff and face the Pats at Allegiant Stadium. A primetime matchup between the Hoodie and McDaniels will snag plenty of headlines, but I’m far from convinced that Mac Jones and the Kraft Attack have what it takes to hang with Las Vegas.
The Silver and Black should win and win handily.
Prediction: IT WAS A F**KING FUMBLE
Week 16: At the Pittsburgh Steelers
Dec. 14th at 5:15pm
What could go wrong on Christmas Eve in Pittsburgh? This matchup will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, and the cold weather should give this game a truly old-school feel. The Raiders have routinely beaten the Steelers over the years, even when the talent heavily favored Pittsburgh. Unless Kenny Pickett proves his doubters wrong and becomes a worthy successor to Big Ben at the quarterback position, that won’t be the case come December.
Regardless, that defense is still formidable, and it’s about time the shoe was on the other foot.
Prediction: Towels will wave.
Week 17: San Francisco 49ers
Jan 1st at 1:05pm
Happy New Year to the Bay Area. I fully expect this game to be flexed into the Sunday Night Football slot when this matchup does roll around. San Francisco should be firmly entrenched in the playoff race, as should Las Vegas. The Niners are hoping Trey Lance is the answer at quarterback, but even if he isn’t, head coach Mike Shannahan has shown he can damn near win it all even with suboptimal play at the position.
This will be a bloodbath, but the Raiders will be victorious, proving they still own the Bay.
Prediction: Sprinkle me, mayne.
Week 18: Kansas City Chiefs
Jan. 7th/8th TBD
Don’t be surprised if the Raiders close the season with back-to-back SNF appearances. This game could decide the AFC West; it’s a winner-takes-all matchup between the consensus favorite and the most hated in the division. The energy in Allegiant will be electric, and it will pay dividends when Derek Carr and company take the crown from the Penguin and KC. Laps will definitely be in order.
Prediction: Raiders Pillage the Crown in the West.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal