The Raiders schedule came out last Thursday and the excitement of the 2018 season just went up a notch. Not sure what Head Coach Jon Gruden said or did, but obviously, the former Monday Night Football host still has some pull with the TV executives. Oakland will have four prime time games, three at home and the other one in Santa Clara for the Battle of the Bay. The scheduling group also put both Kansas City games in the last five weeks of the season and gave the Raiders their bye week after the London game with Seattle.
At first glance, the schedule looks very manageable for the Raiders. Especially, when you compare it to last season’s fourth toughest schedule the team had to navigate through. This year, the Silver and Black will have the third easiest schedule in the NFL. The “tough” non-division games in 2018 are at home for Gruden and the Raiders (Rams, Steelers) as well.
Of course, in hindsight this looks great for Oakland. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, Derek Carr and company will need to win games on the field regardless.
@TeeBiggs provided you a week-by-week summary for the entire season last week. Therefore, I will focus on the four best/intriguing games on the Raiders schedule in this piece.
Week 1 vs. Los Angeles Rams (MNF)
What a way to start the second tenure for Jon Gruden with the Raider. How about a big matchup up with 2017 AP NFL Coach of the Year Sean McVay and the Los Angeles Rams. The Rams will feature a reloaded defense in 2018. The Rams added DT Ndamukong Suh, Oakland native Marcus Peters, and speedster Brandin Cooks to an already stacked roster. Oh, by the way, it is on Monday Night Football.
Week 9 @ San Francisco 49ers (TNF)
Battle of the Bay, Carr vs. Garoppolo, Thursday Night Football, what more could you asks for! With both teams looking to improve from their 6-10 records last season, this game will be for bragging rights in the Bay. Also, a great measuring stick for the Raiders midway through the season.
Week 14 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (SNF)
For all of the long time Raider fans and for the guys who remember the 1970’s, playing the Steelers is always a big game. Factor in that it will be on prime time at home, and you have a recipe for a rocking atmosphere at O.co. Big Ben, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell will have their A game in the Bay that night. The Raiders revamped defense, with new Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther, will have his hands full this week.
Week 17 @ Kansas City Chiefs
If you had to make one guess on what Derek Carr’s kryptonite was so far in his young career, playing in Kansas City might be at the top. In Carr’s first four years in the NFL, the former Fresno State Star has never beaten the Chiefs in Arrowhead. Nor has he played well in those games, averaging only 161 yards per game and completing just 52% of his passes. Since this game is in week 17, this game could have big circumstances for both teams.
Any other games that stick out to you? Let me know on Twitter at @ZaragozaAnthony. In addition, as always, make sure you follow @FPC_Raiders for all of your Raiders information and insight.