San Francisco 49ers Schedule Analysis

2018 could be a return to glory for the red and gold.

For the San Francisco 49ers, the release of the 2018 NFL Schedule couldn’t have come soon enough. After a disastrous 1-10 start in 2017, the 49ers ended their season on a five game winning streak thanks to the emergence of new franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo. His play earned him a five year, $137.5 million contract extension, the richest in NFL history. With all the excitement surrounding him and one of the NFL’s marquee franchises, let’s take a look and analyze the 49ers schedule for 2018.

Week 1: at Minnesota Vikings (10 a.m. PST, Sunday September 9th)

Week 2: Detroit Lions (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday September 16th)

Week 3: at Kansas City Chiefs (10 a.m. PST, Sunday September 23rd)

Week 4: at Los Angeles Chargers (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday September 30th)

Week 5: Arizona Cardinals (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday October 7th)

Week 6: at Green Bay Packers (Monday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST Monday October 15th)

Week 7: Los Angeles Rams 5:20 p.m. PST (Sunday Night Football, Sunday October 21st)

Week 8: at Arizona Cardinals (1:25 p.m PST, Sunday October 28th)

Week 9: Vs Oakland Raiders (Thursday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Thursday November 1st)

Week 10: New York Giants (Monday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Monday November 12th)

Week 11: Bye

Week 12: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10 a.m. PST, Sunday November 25th) 

Week 13: at Seattle Seahawks (Sunday Night Football, 5:20 p.m. PST, Sunday December 2nd) 

Week 14: Denver Broncos (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday December 9th)

Week 15: Seattle Seahawks (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday December 16th)

Week 16: Chicago Bears (1:05 p.m. PST, Sunday December 23rd)

Week 17: at Los Angeles Rams (1:25 p.m. PST, Sunday December 30th) 

For a team that went from middling aspirations in 2018 prior to trading for Jimmy Garoppolo to now being mentioned as a possible contender, the 49ers start to the season couldn’t be any harder. Three of their first four games are on the road, and all four games come against teams that posted records of 9-7 or better in 2017, including the NFC runner-up Minnesota Vikings in Week 1. Within the first quarter of the season, we’ll know whether the playoff aspirations for the 49ers are legitimate or not. 

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The pairing of quartback Jimmy Garoppolo and head coach Kyle Shanahan could yield playoff results in 2018.

The 49ers then have a stretch where four of their next five games will be played in front of a national television audience. These games include a Lambeau Field showdown against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, a home divisional battle the next week against the upstart Rams, a battle of the Bay Area less than two weeks later against their cross town rival Raiders, and a classic NFC slugfest against a historical rival in the Giants. The 49ers five game wining streak at the end of 2017 caught the eyes of many, and they’ll be playing under the lights in prime-time five times in 2018. 

Of course, one would be remiss if they failed to mention the 49ers late season match-ups against the Seattle Seahawks. While the Seahawks have won the last 9 games is in the series, including the 2013 NFC Championship game where then Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman had his miraculous deflection in the back of the end zone to linebacker Malcolm Smith for a game sealing interception send them to Super Bowl XLVIII. In 2018, Sherman will find himself on the opposite side of the rivalry, and look for him to perform at an All-Pro level against his former team in Weeks 13 and 15.

The end of the 49ers season resembles that of a homebody, as three of their last four games will be played at Levi’s Stadium. This includes a Super Bowl XXIV re-match against the Broncos, the aforementioned NFC West battle against the Seahawks, and a gimmie game against the lowly Bears. This could result in a nice end of the season run to the postseason should they take advantage of the home for the holidays crowd.

The 49ers are in a prime position in 2018 to not only move out of the basement of their division, but also be a surprise contender in the NFC. Head Coach Kyle Shanahan seems to have found his quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo, as he elevated a putrid offense into the the best offense statistically in the NFL during the last five weeks of 2017. While trouble looms over linebacker Reuben Foster over his domestic violence case (and should’ve been cut already), the defense still boasts young talent in Solomon Thomas and DeForest Buckner along the defensive line, and the previously mentioned addition of Richard Sherman improves the secondary. Even with a tough start and a series of under the microscope prime-time games, the 49ers should be players for the postseason should everything fall into place.

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Oakland Raiders Schedule Analysis

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. 

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The Raiders brass faces an uphill to start the season in 2018.

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. 

Bro-Commentary: Evaluating the Raiders 2017 Regular Season Schedule

Does the 2017 schedule suggest the Raiders will maintain their commitment to excellence?

The 2017 NFL schedule has been released, and pundits everywhere are already predicting teams’ records for the upcoming season. Not so fast everyone! We haven’t even made it to the NFL Draft, so predicting how a teams’ season will play out in April is a bit premature. However, that does not mean we cannot analyze teams’ schedules based on their difficulty and how many prime-time games they will be playing. Being the Raiders fan that I am, I thought it would be engaging to assess the Oakland soon to be Las Vegas Raiders’ 2017 schedule.

Week 1: Sep 10 @ Tennessee Titans

Week 2: Sep 17 New York Jets

Week 3: Sep 24 @ Washington Redskins (Sunday Night Football)

Week 4: Oct 1 @ Denver Broncos

Week 5: Oct 8 Baltimore Ravens

Week 6: Oct 15 Los Angeles Chargers

Week 7: Oct 19 Kansas City Chiefs (Thursday Night Football)

Week 8: Oct 29 @ Buffalo Bills

Week 9: Nov 5 @ Miami Dolphins (Sunday Night Football)

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Nov 19 New England Patriots* (Home game in Mexico City)

Week 12: Nov 26 Denver Broncos

Week 13: Dec 3 New York Giants

Week 14: Dec 10 @ Kansas City Chiefs

Week 15: Dec 17 Dallas Cowboys (Sunday Night Football)

Week 16: Dec 25 @ Philadelphia Eagles (Monday Night Football)

Week 17: Dec 31 @ Los Angeles Chargers

The Raiders 2017 schedule appears to be tougher than their schedule in 2016. For starters, three out of their first four games this season are on the road. They first travel to Nashville to face the Titans week 1, go home to have their home opener against the Jets week 2, fly back east to the nation’s capital to face the Redskins on Sunday Night Football week 3, and then travel to Denver to face their division rival Broncos week 4. The Titans are a team on the rise much like the Raiders, the Redskins are tough at home, and any divisional match-up is always a war. We’ll definitely learn a lot about the Raiders within the first four weeks of the season.

The Raiders also play the NFC East, arguably one of the toughest divisions in football. All of the teams in that division had seven or more wins last year, making their 2017 campaign against the NFC more difficult than last year when they faced the lowly NFC South. Interestingly enough, three of their last five opponents are from the NFC East, as they will face the Giants at home week 13, the Cowboys at home week 15 on Sunday Night Football, and the Eagles in Philadelphia week 16 on a Christmas Day edition of Monday Night Football. This is arguably their toughest stretch of games in 2017, as they also have two road games against division rivals Chiefs and Chargers sprinkled in to end the regular season.

The Raiders also have a relatively late bye week this year, as they will play in nine regular season games before having their bye week in week 10. Personally, I prefer later bye weeks, as it gives teams a chance to rest and replenish themselves before the home stretch of the season. Additionally, their bye week comes before their most important game of the season and is also a potential AFC Championship preview: a “home” game against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Patriots in Mexico City. As wrestling legend Ric Flair once said, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” This game would allow the Raiders to prove themselves as the heir apparent to the AFC throne, and maybe even as the team to beat in the AFC.

Unlike previous seasons where the Raiders struggled to be featured in prime-time match-ups, the Raiders will play in five prime-time games in 2017. They will play three games on NBC’s Sunday Night Football: @ Redskins, @ Dolphins, and home against the Cowboys. They will also be featured in a mandatory CBS/ NFL Network Thursday Night Football (*aka the plague of the earth*) match-up against their division rival Chiefs, and a previously mentioned ESPN Monday Night Football Christmas Day showdown against the Eagles. After going 12-4 last season, the Raiders caught the eyes of many, resulting in them being under the spotlight more frequently in 2017.

Lastly, it would be unfathomable to talk about the Raiders’ 2017 schedule without mentioning the news of their move to Las Vegas in the near future. Not since the 1995 Cleveland Browns has a team had such high aspirations going into the season while also experiencing such a mammoth distraction during it. Of course the players will say it’s not a distraction and that they want to focus on the on the field results, that’s what they are paid to do. But one must wonder if the constant pestering of their future move to Las Vegas will play a dooming role during their season. This is especially pressing considering their final game in the Oakland Alameda Coliseum could be their biggest game of the season in a possible Super Bowl match-up against the Cowboys.

While the Raiders will face an uphill battle considering owner Mark Davis’ decision to relocate the team to Las Vegas and a tougher schedule in 2017, the Raiders will be a popular pick to win the AFC West and make it to the Super Bowl. They have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in DE Kahlil Mack, who will look to continue his dominance. They have an explosive offense led by franchise QB Derek Carr. Whether you are a fan of them or not, there’s little doubt the Raiders will be a compelling team to watch throughout 2017.