The Raiders Game officially have a 2020 NFL schedule for their inaugural season away from Oakland and Los Angeles. How will their change of scenery and renewed optimism match their latest slate?
The Raiders stayed in playoff contention through Week 17 of last season with a 7-9 record. That was a three-game improvement from coach Jon Gruden’s first year back with the organization in 2018. If they can do it again, the Raiders would get to 10-6 and post their first winning season since going 12-4 as an AFC wild-card team in 2016.
In Oakland, after winning the AFC in 2002 with Gruden, the 2016 season marked the only time since that the Raiders finished with a winning record. The Raiders face their next schedule with the blank slate that is a new identity and a new home stadium.
Here is a complete breakdown of the Raiders’ 2020 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 16 games.
Las Vegas Raiders Schedule
Week 1: vs Carolina Panthers, 1 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Sep. 13
Week 2: vs New Orleans Saints, 8:15 p.m., ESPN, Monday, Sep 21
Week 3: vs New England Patriots, 1 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Sep 27
Week 4: vs Buffalo Bills, 4:25 p.m, CBS, Sunday, Oct. 4
Week 5: vs Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Oct. 11
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 8:20 p.m., NBC, Sunday, Oct. 25
Week 8: vs Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m., FOX, Sunday, Nov. 1
Week 9: vs Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m., FOX, Sunday, Nov. 8
Week 10: vs Denver Broncos, 4:05 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Nov. 15
Week 11: vs Kansas City Chiefs, 8:20 p.m., NBC, Nov. 22
Week 12: vs Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Nov. 29
Week 13: vs New York Jets, 1 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Dec. 6
Week 14: vs Indianapolis Colts, 4:05 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Dec. 13
Week 15: vs Los Angeles Chargers, 8:20 p.m., FOX/NFLN/Amazon, Thursday, Dec. 17
Week 16: vs Miami Dolphins, TBD, Sat./Sun., Dec. 26/27
Week 17: vs Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m., CBS, Sunday, Jan. 3
Raiders strength of schedule
Based on 2019 combined winning percentage of their 2020 opponents (127-129, .496) the Raiders have either the 12th easiest or 21st toughest schedule. That’s a big change from last year, when the Raiders’ opponents went a league-best 137-117-2 in 2018.
The bad news for Las Vegas is the fact that last year’s schedule became easier than it was on paper, and this year’s group of games is considerably tougher than it looks. In reality, the Broncos and Raiders have it much more difficult than what the records indicate, in a reverse from last season. The Chiefs and Chargers, meanwhile, have it easier.
Toughest tests: The Raiders, in their adjustment to a more neutral home, won’t have any advantages with the Chiefs and Bills coming to Las Vegas. Derek Carr also needs to win home duels against Brady, Brees and Rivers.
The road slate includes trips to the Eastern time zone for five games outside of the division, with weather playing some factor at the Patriots, Jets and Browns. Inside the division, having the Chiefs and improved Broncos twice each hurts the Raiders’ playoff chances.
Biggest breaks: The Raiders might benefit from the Chargers being in transition to at least try to make third place the floor. They also are capable of splitting with the Broncos.
Outside of the division, the Dolphins are by far their most beatable visiting foes. The Falcons, Panthers, Browns and Jets present some good opportunities on the road, and the Patriots might not be as daunting without Brady as they usually are.
There are multiple chances for breakthrough games. The Raiders need to take advantage of a few for any significant improvement in 2020.
Bottom line: The Raiders are a team adjusting to a new city coming off an offseason with unusual circumstances, some of which can spill over into the regular season. That makes them one of the most unpredictable teams in 2020. Their 7-9 previous record adds to the difficulty of their latest projection.
With that said, they are going in the right direction with their roster overhaul under Gruden and GM Mike Mayock. Over the past two years, they have added 16 key starters. The talent is there to add maybe another win, but consistent obstacles on the schedule likely won’t allow for more than that.
Record prediction: 8-8