Raiders game by game predictions for the 2017 season
The Oakland Raiders will begin their 2017 campaign on Sunday morning then they travel to Tennessee to take on the Titans in week one of the regular season. In what is easily the most hyped up offseason since the Raiders went to the Super Bowl, Oakland has been frequently mentioned as a Super Bowl contender. And now we will find out if all of the talk was just that, talk, or if it’s something real.
But before the season starts, it’s time to get some predictions in. First up, game by game predictions.
@ Tennessee - WIN
This is a huge week one test for the Raiders. Tennessee isn’t a power house team but many believe it is trending in that direction. They’ve got a very good offense and a solid defense. It’s a huge test for a Raiders team who expects to be among the best in the league. If they want to meet those expectations, a large part of doing so will be winning in week one on the road at Tennessee.
I think the Raiders get the win primarily due to it being in week one. Marcus Mariota does not quite look fully healthy after breaking his leg last season and the Titans have had a slow start the past couple of seasons. If this game was in week 15, I might have a different opinion. Luckily for Oakland, of all the units who will take the field this Sunday, the Raiders offense is far more prepared and ready for greatness than any of the Titans units.
vs. New York Jets - WIN
Back when the Raiders were among the league’s worst teams, opponents could just pencil in a win over Oakland most of the time. That’s where the Jets are as a franchise now. You never want to take a game for granted because it’s still the NFL and anything can happen but beating the Jets in week two should be a given for the Raiders. If it’s not, then we shouldn’t have ever been talking about the Super Bowl. It’s just a very, very bad team. Not much else need be said. Raiders can’t afford to lose this one and they won’t.
@ Washington - LOSS
This one is tough and a lot of the reason for picking Washington to win is tied to the Raider schedule. With three out of the first four games on the road, you have to expect a stumbling block. Plus, Washington is better than many give them credit for and they’ve only upgraded this offseason, in particular with the signing of Terrelle Pryor. Don’t be surprised if Raiders fans are once again treated to a show of Pryor outrunning everyone else on the field, except this time it will be after he gets behind the poor Oakland secondary.
@ Denver - LOSS
Most everyone is dismissing the Denver Broncos because of their quarterback situation. That makes sense to a degree but we can’t forget that they still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Last season they were still a factor in the AFC West, even if they didn’t compete for the crown right up until the end of the year. This year, I expect them to take a step forward on offense and be more of a threat. And when the Raiders travel to Denver, the Broncos will be ready and will pull off the upset in a low scoring game that was dominated by the Denver defense.
vs Baltimore - LOSS
Baltimore is trying to get back to their winning ways and only barely lost to the Raiders last season. This year, they are an improved team. The offense has improved with the addition of Jeremy Maclin, who matches up well against the Raiders corners. On defense, they solidified the secondary even more by adding Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr. That should help them try and contain the dominant passing game of Oakland. This will be another close game but this time, the Ravens will pull out the win thanks to Maclin making himself one of Joe Flacco’s top targets.
vs Los Angeles Chargers - WIN
Despite efforts every offseason to improve this team, it just seems like they are snake bitten. This year, they made some very nice draft picks only to have their first two picks get hurt. First round pick Mike Williams is still weeks away from being able to practice and it’s uncertain if or when he will be back. Forest Lamp, their second round pick, is out for the season with a torn ACL. Once again, the Chargers will look to Philip Rivers to carry the team by himself, and once again, his efforts to do so will fall flat. Raiders take a win at home against the Chargers in fairly easy fashion.
vs Kansas City - WIN
This is the game we’ve been waiting for. Kansas City is the monkey on the Raiders back that they’ve been waiting to take off. It’s the first of two games that could decide who wins the AFC West crown. If there is any group of people looking forward to this game more than Raiders fans, it’s the Raiders players and coaches. They know that Kansas City stands in their path to the AFC West crown and they are tired of being owned by a guy named Alex Smith. The Raiders come out strong and come away with a solid victory as they take one step closer to getting the monkey off of their backs.
@ Buffalo - WIN
While they aren’t quite the Jets, Buffalo isn’t a good team. It’s a team that the Raiders should expect to beat, on the road or not. Cold weather or not. The Raiders are supposed to be a class above a team like the Buffalo Bills and beating teams like this should be considered a must if we are still talking about the playoffs and potentially a long run in the playoffs. Obviously, flukes happen all of the time in the NFL and it’s not the end of the world if Buffalo pulled off an upset. But for now, you have to expect the Raiders to beat a team like the Bills.
@Miami - WIN
The Dolphins are a step above the Bills but still aren’t at the level of the Raiders. Plus, after they showed a ton of improvement late last season, losing their starting quarterback Ryan Tanehill and being forced to replace him by pulling Jay Cutler off of a television set just isn’t a good look. Adam Gase appears to have a shot at being a good head coach, but this isn’t the season where it’s confirmed. Miami will have an up and down year with one of their downs coming against the Raiders.
vs New England (Mexico City Game) - LOSS
The Raiders are almost there, but not quite there yet. They will be able to compete with the Patriots but unless the defense makes huge leaps by this game, things could get ugly. The Patriots offense is still one of the best in the league and Tom Brady is still one of, if not the best quarterback in the league. He is going to have his way with the Raiders defense and while Derek Carr and company will keep it close, they won’t be able to score on every possession the way New England might. It won’t be an ugly loss and it will show that the Raiders can play at New England’s level, but it will also show that the defense will have to improve before they can think about a deep playoff run.
vs. Denver - WIN
After the Raiders were upset in their first matchup against the Broncos, they will get their revenge in Oakland and in front of the Black Hole. By now, the Raiders defense will have solidified a little bit while Denver’s lackluster offense will have caught up to them. Denver might still have some playoff hopes but the Raiders will still be at 6-4 and seen as a legitimate playoff contender with upside. Now, the Raiders will take that a step further with a solid win over Denver at home to advance to 7-4.
vs. New York Giants - LOSS
A solid test that the Raiders won’t be able to pass. Coming off of a big win over Denver to advance the team to 7-4, they take a step back as Eli Manning picks apart the secondary just one week after it looked improved while playing against the poor Denver passing offense. Meanwhile, the Giants defense will do just enough to eek out a close win in Oakland. Unlike last season, the Raiders won’t be able to win every single game that goes down to the final minutes.
@ Kansas City - LOSS
By this point, the Raiders and Kansas City will have similar records and will both be pushing for a playoff berth and a deep run in the playoffs. And while the Raiders got a win in their first matchup, showing they are ready to try and win the AFC West crown, the Chiefs will show that they aren’t quite ready to give that crown up. Kansas City remains one of the hardest places for a road team to play and the Chiefs coaches still know how to play the Raiders extremely well. It’ll be another close loss for the Raiders in back to back weeks.
vs. Dallas - LOSS
Not only will Zeke Elliott be back from suspension by this point, he will have fresh legs and will be looking to use them. Dak Prescott will do what he does best by protecting the ball and taking away one of the few things this Raiders defense does well: create turnovers. The Cowboys offensive line will push the Raiders front seven all over and conduct long, clock draining drives that put a ton of pressure on Derek Carr and the Raiders offense to score and score quickly. Unfortunately, this season the luck ball will bounce away from the Raiders almost as often as it bounced towards them last year. They will lose yet another close game but it will be hard to be upset because Dallas is a legitimate contender.
@ Philadelphia - WIN
After three straight losses, the Raiders will be reeling. But with leaders like Jack Del Rio, Khalil Mack and most importantly, Derek Carr, this isn’t a team that will just pack up its bags and go home. The Raiders will bounce back with a rage and travel across the country to dispose of the Philadelphia Eagles. The Raiders will have heard the commentators saying they were never legitimate. They will feel the goal of the playoffs and maybe even a Super Bowl begin to slip out of their hands. And with those things on their minds, they will take out their frustration on the Eagles and win big.
@ Los Angeles Chargers - WIN
By now, the Raiders will hopefully still be battling for the AFC West crown and a playoff berth while the Chargers will just be playing the role of a spoiler. But they won’t be able to spoil the Raiders who will turn the tiny Stub Hub center into a Raiders tailgater, except smaller. Raiders fans will flock to the game like swans to Capistrano and Oakland South will find a new home in Carson, California for 2017. The Raiders will pick up where they left off with the Eagles and put down another dominant win as they head into the playoffs playing very good football. And yes, I do believe that the 9-7 record will land them in the playoffs.