Much has been said about the first half of the Oakland Raiders 2016 schedule being very easy. The fallacy of that is that it’s based on 2015 season records and not what teams have done in the offseason. Early 2016 Raiders opponents: @Jacksonville (5-11); @Tennessee (3-13); @Tampa Bay (6-10); and San Diego (4-12) will be much improved versus last year.
In contrast, the final 8 games of the Raiders 2016 schedule will be brutal. 5 out of those 8 games will be against 2015 playoff teams, including two against the 2015 Super Bowl winner Denver Broncos and one against the Super Bowl loser, Carolina Panthers. The only team in that stretch with a 2015 losing record is San Diego. That game will be played on the road.
Despite a tough schedule down the stretch, we’re optimistic about the 2016 Raiders season. We’re not making predictions yet, though we have a general idea where the Raiders should or will end the year.
RAIDERS 2016 SCHEDULE
Week 1: @ NEW ORLEANS
The Raiders opening on the road? No surprise there. The Oakland Raiders opening day record over the past 10 years is 2-8. They tend to play ugly on opening day and one way or another must change that.
Week 2: ATLANTA
An early season matchup of two teams with high expectations. Falcon coaches and players view last year’s 8-8 record as a major disappointment. Atlanta comes to Oakland with a chip on their shoulder.
Week 3: @ TENNESSEE
Back on the road. The Titans made big upgrades via Free Agency and the NFL Draft. It will be interesting to see how much QB Marcus Mariota progresses in his sophomore year. Raiders won last year at Tennessee, 24-21.
Week 4: @ BALTIMORE
The Baltimore Ravens were 5-11 last year. Much of that was due to the loss of QB Joe Flacco but the reality is, the Ravens have age and depth issues to deal with. A good test for the Raiders who came from behind last year to win at home, 37-33.
Week 5: SAN DIEGO
After being on the road three of the first four weeks of the 2016 season, the Oakland Raiders get the San Diego Chargers at home. San Diego had a good draft and will be much be better this year thanks to an improved defense.
Week 6: KANSAS CITY
Kansas City lost key players to retirement and free agency and their 2016 draft was underwhelming. This is a chance for the Oakland Raiders to set the tone in the AFC West. Game is in Mexico City.
Week 7: @ JACKSONVILLE
We figure the tag line for this game will be Derek Carr versus Blake Bortles. Both QBs were drafted in 2014. Carr was a 2nd rounder while Bortles was the 3rd overall pick. Both QBs need to pick it up this year.
Week 8: TAMPA BAY
Back to back games on the East Coast. The Buccaneers are doing good things but it will come down to how QB Jameis Winston develops in year 2. Temperature should not be a factor at the end of October.
Week 9: DENVER
Final game before the Bye. Raiders must sweep the Broncos to win the AFC West and it starts right here, right now. The 2016 season gets much harder from here on out.
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: HOUSTON
We know the Texans defense will be stellar. The question is how much better will the offense be with the additions of former Denver QB Brock Osweiler and Rookie WR Will Fuller.
Week 12: CAROLINA
2015 Super Bowl contender Carolina Panthers roll into Oakland. A big, big test for the Silver and Black.
Week 13: BUFFALO
Raiders need a big home win before playing three of their final four games on the road. Both teams should be eyeing the playoffs going into this game.
Week 14: @ KANSAS CITY
Watershed game. If Oakland can go into Arrowhead and knock off the Chiefs, then the team has definitely turned the corner for good. Expect the game to be an old fashioned brawl.
Week 15: @ SAN DIEGO
The Raiders swept San Diego last year and there’s no reason they can’t do it again, especially with the playoffs on the line. Could be Aldon Smith’s first game of the 2016 season.
Week 16: INDIANAPOLIS
Raiders will need to get after QB Andrew Luck. Despite losing Luck for much of the 2015 season, the Colts still finished 8-8 and are eager to get back into the playoffs.
Week 17: @ DENVER
This might be the battle that decides the 2016 AFC West Champion. Denver and Oakland split the series last year with each team winning on the road. Good chance QB Paxton Lynch is the starter for Denver.