While the release of the 2020 NFL schedule gives fans and teams a clear view of who and where their teams will be playing, it also gives an insight into how much travel teams will be doing throughout the season. The Raiders plot their course.
For the last four seasons, the Oakland Raiders consistently logged the most travel miles in the league. However, with a new location comes a new travel schedule. In 2020, the Las Vegas Raiders will take seventh in the team mileage rankings. Considering the team previously found themselves located significantly in the Pacific Northwest, an extreme amount of travel is understandable. But, the Raiders’ travel schedule still has felt stretched, partially due to their frequent international games.
In 2020, the Raiders’ schedule appears far more team-friendly. There are zero neutral-site games for the team, as well as a comfortable stretch of five home games in seven weeks, starting immediately after the bye week. The partial homestand takes place in the homestretch of the season, starting mid-November and continuing into Week 16.
Heading into the preseason, the Raiders may have had a majority of their offseason questions answered. The team has acquired two linebackers, Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, bolstering their previously weak linebacker corps. Derek Carr now has a speedy, #1 wide receiver in Henry Ruggs III, complementing a now-impressive group of Tyrell Williams, Hunter Renfrow, and Nelson Agholor. The Raiders’ strength of schedule comes in at 21st when comparing records last season. Lastly, the team’s travel schedule is incredibly less strenuous compared to last season. The Las Vegas Raiders now have no excuse for failure this season. A meager 7-9 record will not suffice in their inaugural season in Las Vegas.
Raise the Bar
The Raiders have struggled since 2000, only making the playoffs four times in that span. Rollercoaster season after rollercoaster season has been draining, but now it appears the Las Vegas Raiders are ready to turn a new leaf. While the Super Bowl may not be an entirely realistic expectation yet, a solid playoff run where the team does not need a myriad of things to squeak into a Wild Card game.
Not only is this a “prove it” year for the Raiders, it is also a make-or-break year for Derek Carr. There are no more excuses for Carr, he has an impressive offensive line, receiver corps, and an up-and-coming running back/tight end pair. While Carr still has three years on his contract, the Raiders appear to have one year left on his leash.
The issue is that Carr has shown flashes of talent and greatness throughout his career. Coaches and fans know he has impressive skills, but must be growing impatient from the lack of consistency. Overall, the Raiders have been placed in an incredible position to have an impressive season. Should they not be able to do this, perhaps more major team changes are due.