The Raiders in 2019 face a host of hurdles. They need to get a pass rush, upgrade the defense, bolster the wide receiver corps and hope the offensive line plays better to protect Derek Carr and consistently open up holes for a running attack.
There’s also another hurdle: the schedule.
The Raiders will have the toughest schedule in the NFL, based on opponents’ winning percentage from 2018. AFC West teams this season draw opponents from the NFC North and AFC South. Raiders opponents have a .539 winning percentage and have seven games against playoff teams and teams with 10 or more victories.
The top five toughest schedules are owned by Oakland (.539), Denver (.533), Jacksonville (.531), Houston (.527) and Chicago and Kansas City (tied with .520).
Head coach Jon Gruden, whose team went 4-12 in 2018, is excited by the fact he and his team have three first-round draft picks this spring, but they better have an immediate impact, notes John Breech, an NFL analyst for CBS Sports.
“Gruden better enjoy those three first-round draft picks he has in April’s draft, because once the 2019 regular season kicks off, things could end up turning into a nightmare for him,” he wrote this week. “ … The Raiders will be playing a total of seven games against teams that qualified for the playoffs last year (Chiefs, Chargers, Texans, Colts, Bears), which is tied for the most in the NFL. This definitely isn’t good news for a team that doesn’t even know where it will be playing its home games in 2019.”
Fortunately for the Raiders and their fans, that home field could prove to be the Oakland Coliseum once more. The latest reports indicate the Raiders are close to a deal to play home games in their longtime home in 2019.