Breaking down the Oakland Raiders 2016 schedule and taking aim at some instant predictions for the Silver and Black.
As is tradition, the NFL took center stage on a random weekday in April by releasing its schedule for all 32 teams for the upcoming 2016 season. Analysts and prognosticators of all stripes are already ranking strengths of schedule and analyzing how teams – who aren’t even fully built yet – will do with their slate of games. And here at JBB, we are no different, so here is an “at first glance” examination of the Raiders upcoming schedule, with the caveat that we aren’t sure how any additional free agent acquisitions or the players acquired in the upcoming draft will affect the team, much less injuries and other factors.
The Raiders will lose a home game in 2016, as they have again been selected to take part in the NFL’s international series, playing a “home” game in Mexico City against the Houston Texans, in a move that has the Raider Nation in Mexico (which is massive and very loyal) incredibly excited. The Raiders will play 7 home games at O.Co Coliseum in a season that promises to be one of the last for the Raiders in the dilapidated dual-purpose stadium, and eight road games as usual.
The Raiders, through the rules of NFL scheduling, will be playing the very weak NFC South conference along with the rest of the AFC West, as well as the also weak AFC South, and a third place schedule that pits them against the AFC North’s Ravens (5-11 last year, including a loss to the Raiders) and the AFC East’s Buffalo Bills (8-8 last year, last played the Raiders in 2014, a win for the Raiders). The six annual AFC West rivalry matchups round out the year.
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This slate of matchups puts the Raiders strength of schedule at 15, with opponents totaling a .500 record in 2015, but also includes both participants in the Super Bowl (the defending champ Broncos twice, obviously) and six matchups against playoff teams from a year ago (two against the Broncos, two against the Chiefs, one agains the Texans, and one against the Panthers). The Raiders also get three prime-time games this year, including a Sunday night game at home against Denver and a Monday night game two weeks later in Mexico City as well as a Thursday night game late in the year at Kansas City.
This schedule promises to be much easier – on paper – than last year’s, and the Raiders are a better team as the young core is starting to gel and new acquisitions are filling holes in last year’s lineup. The Raiders have a very realistic chance, as I sit here in April, of having their first winning season since 2002 and returning to the playoffs. Here’s how it plays out: