Obviously free agency and the draft will change the way this schedule looks but It is never too early to look ahead at the 2017 schedule for the Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders will face some tough tests in 2017. They will have to take five trips to the east coast to face Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Miami and Buffalo. The Coliseum will play host to the Cowboys, Giants, Patriots, Titans and Ravens. The Raiders will have to play their AFC West rivals Denver, Kansas City and the newly minted Los Angeles Chargers. Overall, the Raiders’ 2017 opponents went 144-111-1 in 2016 with a .564 winning percentage.
The 2017 schedule poses some challenges for the Silver and Back. First, the Cowboys, Giants, Patriots, Dolphins and Chiefs all made the playoffs. The Patriots, Cowboys, and Chiefs won division titles and only the Jets and the Los Angeles Chargers won fewer than 7 games. Both went 5-11 in 2016.
With a schedule this tough fans will see how good this Raider team truly is.
Now let’s break down the schedule game by game:
Kansas City (12-4 in 2016)
Derek Carr and Kahili Mack won their first games as pros at the expense of the Kansas City Chiefs. Since then the Chiefs have won five straight games against the Raiders. The Chiefs have a few starters that are up for free agency after the 2016 playoffs end. Safety Eric Berry is the headliner along with defensive tackle Dantari Poe and center Michael Person. Also on the market will be defensive ends Kendall Reyes and Jarvis Jenkins and running back Knile Davis. Those six players round out their entire unrestricted free agent class. Andy Reid signed a contract extension so it looks like he will be back at the helm as the Chiefs head coach in 2017. Alex Smith will also return and he is 9-1 lifetime against Oakland. The Chiefs won the AFC West in 2016 and they will be a formidable opponent for Oakland again in 2016.
Denver (9-7 in 2016)
The Broncos got their revenge on Raiders in week fifteen for helping oust them from the playoffs in an earlier matchup. Michael Crabtree should be looking for revenge after having his necklace ripped off on national television by cornerback Aqib Talib. Oakland had beaten Denver twice in a row before falling to them in week fifteen. Quarterback Derek Carr did not play because of his broken fibula and backups Connor Cook and Matt McGloin did not perform well against Denver’s tough defense. Denver has a much larger unrestricted free agent class than Kansas City which is headlined by aging veteran DeMarcus Ware and defensive tackle Vance Walker. Starting defensive tackle Sylvester Williams will also be on the market. Denver changed head coaches and General Manager John Elway shocked the world by naming a defensive minded head coach: Vance Joseph. The pressure will be on Joseph to get Denver back to playoffs after the team missed the postseason for the first time since 2010.
The team is weak at quarterback but there is no doubt in this writers mind that John Elway will fix that problem this offseason if he feels that Denver’s 2015 first round draft choice Paxton Lynch isn’t up to the task. Trevor Siemian started 14 games for Denver and he won 8 of those starts but he didn’t exactly shock the world despite the presence of two top flight receivers on the roster. At this juncture it has been announced that both Siemian and Lynch will compete for Denver’s starting quarterback job. As we learned in previous seasons, the Broncos are a team that relies on their tough defense and it really doesn’t matter who is behind center. Denver’s restricted free agent list is fairly long but Elway has a knack for resigning the players that are worth keeping and letting go those who aren’t worth their “grain of salt” anymore.
Los Angeles Chargers (5-11 in 2015)
The Chargers will be playing in a new city for the first time in over 55 years and Los Angeles is still regarded as an area that has a strong Raider following. It will be interesting to see how many Raiders fans fill the Chargers new stadium when Oakland travels to Los Angeles in 2017. Derek Carr has fared better against the Chargers than either the Chiefs of the Broncos. Carr is 4-2 lifetime against the Chargers versus his 2-3 record against Denver and his 1-5 record versus Kansas City. Phillip Rivers is still a formidable opponent and in recent years he has had a field day torching the Raiders defensive backs with his passes. Running back Melvin Gordon seemed to come into his own during his second season and even though the defensive play is spotty the Chargers always seem to play big against the Raiders. The San Diego Chargers are projected to be $21,726,996 UNDER the cap and Melvin Ingram appears to be the only major athlete that could be potentially lost in free agency. Still, they have many holes to fill on their roster and they have changed head coaches again after firing Mike McCoy. Personally, I expect the Raiders to win both games at this point but there is a reason why games are played and there is a reason why the NFL has an offseason.
Dallas Cowboys (13-3 in 2016)
The Raiders will host Dallas but Tony Romo is out and the Raiders will have to contend with the dominant pairing of Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott and Rayne Dakota “Dak” Prescott. Elliott gained almost 2,000 yards from scrimmage as a rookie and he scored 16 touchdowns. Prescott completed nearly 68% of his passes; he threw 23 touchdowns and ran for 6 more. Both will be formidable opponents for the Silver and Black. The Dallas defense ranked 5th in points allowed in 2016 and 14th in yards surrendered. The Raiders are 5-6 lifetime against the Cowboys. Former Raiders running back Darren McFadden is currently listed third on their depth chart.
New York Giants (11-5 in 2016)
The Oakland Raiders will square off against Eli Manning for the third time in franchise history. This game is in Oakland so the Raiders will not have to make a cross country trip to East Rutherford, New Jersey. Eli has had the Raiders number with a 3-0 record. The Oakland defense will have to find a way to stop Odell Beckman and Manning’s quick receiving corps. On defense the Giants were solid in 2016. The Giants defense ranked 2nd in the league with the least points surrendered and 10th in yards allowed. Former Raiders running back Rashad Jennings is still their starting running back.
@ Philadelphia Eagles (7-9 in 2016)
Having to face the Giants and Cowboys four times during the regular season didn’t make the 2016 season an easy one for Philadelphia. Still, Philly started the year with 3 straight wins before going 4-9 the rest of the way. Head coach Doug Pederson is a very crafty play caller and that makes Carson Wentz a better player than he actually is. This game will be interesting because it means another cross country trip for the Oakland Raiders unless the league pairs two east coast games back to back. If he is still on the roster, former Raider cornerback Malcolm Jenkins will face off against Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper.
@ Washington Redskins (8-7-1 in 2016)
The NFC East was the league’s most competitive and the Redskins are just another reason why. They started the season 4-2 before the bottom fell out of the tub. Quarterback Kirk Cousin threw for nearly 5,000 yards and linebacker Ryan Kerrigan finished the season with 11 sacks. The Raiders will have to travel cross country to the nation’s capital where they haven’t scored a victory since 2005.
Jets (5-11 in 2016)
The Jets will have to do plenty of work to improve this roster. The problems are on both sides of the ball, New York finished 26th on offense and their defense ranked 28th in points surrendered in 2016. Runningback Matt Forte will be 32 next year and he is not the runningback that he once was in Chicago. One also has to wonder who will be the Jets starting quarterback when the Raiders face them in 2017.
Patriots (14-2 in 2016)
As of this writing both the Patriots are still alive in the 2016 playoffs. Therefore, the Raiders might host a participant in Super Bowl 51. In 2014, Derek Carr almost drove the Raiders to a win before a late turnover spelled doom for the Raiders. Tom Brady is in great physical shape and despite turning 40 it doesn’t look like he will be slowing down anytime soon. Brady only tossed 2 interceptions during his 2016 campaign and he is as good now as he was 10 years ago. I am certain that during the week leading up to this game the media will be harping on the “New England Snow Job” and talking about how awesome Tom Brady is. Let’s hope Bill Belichick retires.
@ Dolphins (10-6 in 2016)
The Dolphins seemed poised to shock the world in the 2016 playoffs until Ryan Tannehill injured his knee. He has proven that he is the teams franchise quarterback and running back Jay Ajayi is a dangerous runner. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry was virtually unstoppable in 2016 too and his 94 receptions for 1,136 yards led the team. Cameron Wake led the defense with 11 sacks.
@ Buffalo Bills (7-9 in 2016)
The Bills finally parted ways with the Ryan brothers and part of the reason for that firing was a loss in Oakland on December 4th. LeSean McCoy is approaching 30 but he is just as dangerous as he has always been. The Bills biggest problem rests at the feet of the quarterback position. Tyrod Taylor and E.J. Manual have not lived up to expectations even though the Bills have devoted several years in their development. With a new coaching staff it is likely that the Bills will see wholesale changes.
@ Titans (9-7 in 2016)
If both quarterbacks are healthy, Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota will face each other for the third straight year. Both men will be eager to get back behind center after they both broke their fibulas. Mariota and the Titans will travel to Oakland for the first time and the Raiders will be primed, poised and ready. They will have to be after narrowly beating the Titans last season by a score of 17-10 this past season.
Ravens (8-8 in 2016)
Baltimore is 6-3 lifetime against Oakland but they have lost two straight to the Raiders. This game will be the third straight season that these two teams will play one another and the players know each other’s tendencies very well. Joe Flacco doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his play and John Harbaugh always seems to have the Ravens well prepared to play. There is no doubt that 2017 will see the same type of Ravens teams that we have come to expect. They will be tough on defense and Flacco will open things up with the passing game.