Ranking the top five toughest games for the Oakland Raiders on their 2017 schedule.
For one reason or another, it seems the Oakland Raiders are always at or near the top when it comes to strength of schedule. Going into the 2017 season, according to the winning percentage of their opponents from the previous season, the Raiders will have the fourth toughest schedule in the NFL. They only trail the Chiefs, Broncos and Chargers in terms of strength of schedule.
Looking at the 2017 schedule from top to bottom, there are several games that standout as tough, but there are five in particular that standout above the rest. Here are the top five toughest games for the Raiders on the 2017 schedule.
#5 – Week 4 at Denver Broncos
While division games are normally tougher and more important than others, this matchup against the Denver Broncos could very well set up what will be a great race for the AFC West division crown.
This will be the Raiders’ first division matchup of the season, and what makes it all that much more tougher is that it will be in the high altitudes of Denver, Colorado. The Raiders have only managed to win in Denver twice since 2011.
What makes this game even that much more tougher is that this will be the Raiders’ third road game out of four weeks. Meaning, should we expect a sluggish performance, or will we get that road warrior mentality we all saw in 2016? This game can be an early tone setter for this Raiders team, and will be one of the very tough divisional games they will play in 2017.
#4 – Week 7 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Another game that will surely be a tough one will be against those dreaded Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night in Oakland. The Raiders have seemingly struggled against the Chiefs for pretty much the entirety of Derek Carr’s young career, managing only one victory since 2014.
Psychologically, this will give the Raiders a chance to show not only a nationally televised audience, but themselves that they are the top dog in the AFC West.
One thing that will play in the Raiders’ favor will be the fact that it is a home game, and this time around, the Chiefs will be traveling to Oakland on a short week. Despite that, expect Andy Reid and the Chiefs to come fully prepared to come get a win.
#3 – Week 15 vs. Dallas Cowboys
If you are an NFL fan, you have probably been waiting for both the Raiders and Cowboys to be good at the same time. If both teams are healthy at this point in the season, this very well could be a Super Bowl 52 preview.
Last season the Cowboys were the best team in the NFC during the regular season, sporting a record of 13-3 and also a road record of 6-2. The road record is relevant here, considering this will be a Sunday night game in Oakland.
This game will feature a ton of young NFL stars, but that will not take away from the fact that this will be arguably the toughest opponent the Raiders could see out of the NFC.
#2 – Week 14 at Kansas City Chiefs
The second toughest game you can expect will once again be against the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City.
What makes this game tougher than the first meeting will be because it is another road game, but also because by week 14, you can expect the division race to be tightening up between the Chiefs and the Raiders.
This matchup will not only be tougher, but could prove to be far more important because divisional games this late in the season could easily determine playoff seeding. Take last years loss to the Denver Broncos in Week 17 as a perfect example.
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#1 – Week 11 vs. New England Patriots
And your number one toughest game for the 2017 season will be against the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots.
This matchup was originally supposed to be played in Oakland, until it was later revealed this was going to be another Monday night game in Mexico City. Not only do the Raiders lose their home-field advantage, but they are playing a team that has somehow gotten stronger despite just winning a super bowl.
This game could be a preview of the AFC championship, and depending on how this game plays out, it very well could determine who is the favorite to represent the AFC in the super bowl.