Jon Gruden and the Raiders look to improve upon a disappointing 2017 season in 2018.
While we’ve known who the Raiders opponents will be in the 2018 NFL Season since New Years Eve 2017, the NFL has finally released every team’s full schedule for the 2018 season. Sure, there’s still the NFL Draft to get through and we haven’t even reached training camp, but let’s analyze how the 2018 schedule stacks up for Jon Gruden and the Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders.
Week 1: Los Angeles Rams (Monday Night Football, 7:20 p.m. PST, Monday September 10th)
Week 2: at Denver Broncos (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday September 16th)
Week 3: at Miami Dolphins (10 a.m. PST, Sunday September 23rd)
Week 4: Cleveland Browns (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday September 30th)
Week 5: at Los Angeles Chargers (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday October 7th)
Week 6: Seattle Seahawks (10:00 a.m. PST, Sunday October 14th in London)
Week 7: Bye
Week 8: Indianapolis Colts (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday October 28th)
Week 9: at San Francisco 49ers (Thursday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Thursday November 1st)
Week 10: Los Angeles Chargers (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday November 11th)
Week 11: at Arizona Cardinals (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday November 18th)
Week 12: at Baltimore Ravens (10 a.m. PST, Sunday November 25th)
Week 13: Kansas City Chiefs (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday December 2nd)
Week 14: Pittsburgh Steelers (Sunday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Sunday December 9th)
Week 15: at Cincinnati Bengals (10 a.m. PST, Sunday December 16th)
Week 16: Denver Broncos (Monday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Monday December 24th)
Week 17: at Kansas City Chiefs (10 a.m. PST, Sunday December 30th)
Once again, the NFL has not been kind to the Raiders schedule. It’s not like they have much of a choice, however. Especially after owner Mark Davis pillaged Las Vegas for nearly a billion dollars in public funds for their new stadium in Las Vegas and begged the NFL to move there, the Raiders are at the whim of the league and their scheduling.
They begin the season away from home for four out of the first six weeks of the season. This includes divisional clashes against the Broncos and Chargers, and a trip to South Beach against the Dolphins. One of the recurring themes of the Raiders schedule since 2014 is effectively losing a home game in Oakland to play a “home” game internationally, and this year their reward is to play the earliest scheduled London game in Week 6 against the Seahawks. Sure, the Raiders have international appeal due to their global brand, but taking away yet another home game from the soon to be abandoned Oakland fans adds insult to injury.
To end the season, the Raiders face divisional foes three out of their last five games, including two tilts against the Chiefs and a Christmas Eve battle against the Broncos. They also face two tough AFC North foes in the final five weeks, with their historical rival in the Steelers coming to town in what could be a potential playoff match-up and a grind it out early kickoff against the Bengals. This stretch could make or break the Raiders playoff aspirations, and they must take care of business in their final divisional games and stand up to the bullies of the AFC North.
In regards to marquee time slots, the Raiders appear on prime-time television four times in 2018, down from the five nationally televised games last season. They’ll get exposure on all three prime-time time slots, with two home game Monday Night Football tilts against west coast rivals in the Rams and Broncos, a road battle of the Bay Area on Thursday Night Football against the 49ers, and a Sunday Night a Football slugfest against the Steelers.
After a disappointing 2017 that perhaps had too much unwarranted hype going into it, the Raiders should improve upon last season’s disastrous campaign. Yes, the defense may have to bend and not break once again, but 2016’s Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Kahlil Mack, can anchor this defense, and should receive a contract extension at some point before the start of the regular season. Quarterback Derek Carr is a franchise player who regressed to the mean last year, and should bounce back under the tutelage of Jon Gruden. Adding veteran wide receiver Jordy Nelson should help wide receiver Amari Cooper regain his Pro-Bowl form, and the one two punch of running backs Marshawn Lynch and free agent acquisition Doug Martin should result in a potent running attack. Mark Davis can only hope his ten year, $100 million investment in Jon Gruden pans out in year one of the second Chucky era. By the looks of the 2018 schedule, the Raiders should be able to contend for the postseason, but as always, it’ll be a grind for the Silver and Black.