While the Las Vegas Raiders find themselves in one of the most contentious divisions in the NFL this season, their out-of-conference schedule provides minimal relief.
To kick off their out of division matchups (and regular season), the Raiders travel to Carolina to face off with Kyle Allen and the Panthers. Despite the departure of Cam Newton, the Raiders’ key to victory comes from slowing down the Panthers’ offense. Expect Christian McCaffery to be the main focus of the Raiders’ defensive scheme.
On the offensive side, the Raiders’ established yet improved skill players should have an opportunity to provide a preview for the season. Carolina’s defense is no joke but calling them “lockdown” would be an exaggeration.
Prediction: 31-20 Las Vegas Raiders over Panthers
Eight days later, the Raiders find themselves at home for the first time during the regular season, and welcome in the New Orleans Saints. This will provide the first true test for the Raiders while also giving us a glimpse of The Black Hole: Las Vegas. The Saints boast a supercharged offense led by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees and a relentless defense. The Saints are constantly playoff contenders and this should be a decent measuring game for the Raiders.
Prediction: 28-24 New Orleans Saints over Raiders
Six days later, the Raiders will travel to the Foxboro to square off against the New England Patriots. The Patriots find themselves in the midst of a bit of an identity crisis with the departure of their 20-year veteran quarterback Tom Brady. Make no mistake, the Patriots under Bill Belichick are still a force to be reckoned with. The key to beating the Patriots at this point is outsmarting their defense, meaning Lynn Bowden could see increased action as Jon Gruden attempts to compete with Belichick.
Prediction: 34-27 Las Vegas Raiders over Patriots
Following the game against the Patriots, the Raiders will stay in the AFC East but travel home to welcome the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have produced a stifling defense and an up-and-coming star in Josh Allen, coming off a relatively impressive playoff run. The Bills will be out for vengeance as they try to usurp the Patriots from the peak of the East.
Prediction: 35-28 Buffalo Bills over Raiders
Following a game against the Kansas City Chiefs and a bye week, the Raiders welcome in the second half of the now-split Belichick-Brady dynasty and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tom Brady has impressive weapons in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as well as an immovable defensive line. Passing will be key in this matchup and Derek Carr will have to be in midseason form.
Prediction: 42-38 Las Vegas Raiders over Buccaneers
The Raiders head back on the road to square off with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns find themselves under new coaching but still boast one of the most well-stocked offenses in the league. Baker Mayfield should have his team figured out, but pass rush will be crucial to securing a Raiders’ victory.
Prediction: 35-31 Las Vegas Raiders over Browns
After three straight division games, the Raiders will travel to Atlanta to do battle with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and the rest of the Falcons. Atlanta has struggled to find footing since their crushing Super Bowl loss, but appear to be getting back on track. The Raiders’ secondary must be prepared.
Prediction: 28-10 Las Vegas Raiders over Falcons
The Raiders will stay on the east side of the country while hoping to redeem themselves from an embarrassing loss against the New York Jets. Sam Darnold should be prepared for his first full season, but it seems incredibly unlikely that Jon Gruden forgets the embarrassing loss from last season, and fans can expect the Raiders to come out swinging, and swinging hard.
Prediction: 35-14 Las Vegas Raiders over Jets
The Raiders will then return home to welcome in the Indianapolis Colts. The Raiders faced the Colts in Indianapolis last season and secured a victory and will hope to have a similar result as the Colts still face injury and quarterback question marks.
Prediction: 31-20 Las Vegas Raiders over Colts
To finish off the Raiders’ out of division games, the team will meet the Miami Dolphins in Las Vegas. The Dolphins have stirred up an impressive amount of attention due to their drafting of Tua Tagovailoa, but Miami still appears to be a few pieces short of a full team, and it will show.
Prediction: 28-21 Las Vegas Raiders over Dolphins