Raiders Will Face Brutal Late-Season Schedule

If Oakland hopes to reach playoffs again, it will need to conquer a November and December that ranks as perhaps the NFL's most challenging

Earlier this month – long before the Raiders’ 2017 schedule was announced Thursday night – the analytic group Football Outsiders projected Oakland’s record this coming season would take a hit.

Football Outsiders predicted the Raiders would drop from 12-4 in 2016 to 9-7 in 2017. Part of their reasoning is the AFC West will be a brutally tough division and that none of the four teams will dominate. In fact, Football Outsiders projecs the Raiders will actually win the AFC West at 9-7.

Also, figure that the rest of the NFL will be zeroing in on the Raiders next season in a way opponents haven’t for a long, long while. With a fine cast including quarterback Derek Carr and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack, the Raiders are now considered one of the AFC’s best teams.

Now, with the official announcement of the Raiders’ schedule, there’s another reason to believe Oakland’s path to more victories in 2017 will be extremely difficult.

In an analysis by Jared Dubin, who covers the NFL for CBS Sports, the Raiders’ schedule over the final two months is considered to be among the five toughest in the league.

In November, the Raiders will play at Miami on a Sunday night, take on the Super Bowl-champion Patriots in Mexico City (after a bye) and then host the Broncos for a Sunday night game. The winning percentage of Raiders opponents in November is 68.8, the toughest in the NFL that month.

In December, the Raiders play the Giants, Chiefs and Cowboys before traveling across country to take on the Eagles in a Christmas night game in Philadelphia, followed by a season-ending New Year’s Eve game in Los Angeles vs. the Chargers with one day less preparation time. The winning percentage of Raiders opponents in December is 60.0, the fourth-most difficult.

As Vinnie Iyer of The Sporting News wrote Thursday night: “From wire to wire, there’s no breathing room or real gimme games for Oakland in 2017. One of the NFL’s most talented young teams will need to grow up faster.” His caveat: “With Derek Carr leading the way, that certainly can happen.”

Though the Raiders get their bye late – a blessing for a team in need of a break in a push for a playoff spot – Dubin notes the post-bye schedule “is easily the toughest stretch any team has all season.”

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