As Wild Card Weekend comes to a close, Raiders fans may find themselves longing for Silver and Black football. Even though the next games the Raiders will play are still months away, it cannot hurt to start looking ahead to the teams the Raiders will be facing.
Welcome to Vegas
Once again, the Raiders do not have an international game, so eight teams will visit Allegiant Stadium in 2021. As usual, the Raiders will host all three of their AFC West counterparts, but the Silver and Black will also welcome The Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team, and the Miami Dolphins.
Of their home games, the Raiders will face three playoff teams (Chiefs, Ravens, and Washington) and three teams that finished last in their division (Bengals, Broncos, Eagles). In addition, the Miami Dolphins were a 10-win team that narrowly missed the playoffs and should be an informative status report as to where the Raiders stand, as a win could signal that Las Vegas is ready for the playoffs, while a loss could prove there is more work to be done.
An interesting note about the playoff teams the Raiders will face at home is how uniquely each team finished their season. Kansas City finished the year at 14-2 and clinched the lone AFC bye, Baltimore entered as a Wild Card team at 11-5, and Washington failed upwards into the playoffs at 7-9.
Even more interesting is the fact that Las Vegas played two of these playoff teams in 2020, going 1-2 with a +3 point differential. On the other hand, the last place finishers the Raiders will face are all incredibly frisky teams with the capability of hanging with anyone. If Cincinnati were to beef up their offensive line in the offseason, their offensive productivity could skyrocket. The same would be true for Philadelphia, should they be able to move frustrated quarterback Carson Wentz for valuable assets.
Super Early Look
Regardless of draft picks and team improvements, the Raiders should be expected to beat Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Miami, which would set the bar at a 5-3 home record, a vast improvement from 2020’s 2-6 showing.
Assuming there will be fans in attendance, the Raiders’ home record should never drop below 4-4. Spending multiple seasons at 5-3 still hints at a stagnant team. For example, the Colts finished the 2020 season with a 6-2 home record. They skated into the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Homefield advantage is one of the few ways a team can legally tilt the playing field in their direction. As a result, not using such an advantage feels incredibly foolish.