The new-look Oakland Raiders 2012 season is going to be grounded before it even has a chance to get going. They have a rough opening slate of games that is going to leave them scrambling to piece together anything but a disastrous record.
The Raiders have a lot of change to process in order to get ready for the season. The organization is undergoing more change than it has at any time since the late Al Davis took over control.
This team has a new leader in GM Reggie McKenzie. He will be instilling a vision and philosophy that had previously only been dictated by Al Davis for almost the entire existence of the storied franchise.
McKenzie brought in a defensive-minded coach in Dennis Allen. He is going to make sure that the defense is an entirely different animal than it was last season, which is good, since the defense was terrible.
Still, it will take time for the players to adjust. Also, they will be adjusting without some of their best players from the season before. No. 1 corner Stanford Routt and leading sacker Kamerion Wimbley were both cut to ease Oakland's cap concerns.
Allen should be expected to turn this defense around, but there will be bumps along the way, and this opening schedule is not going to help.
The Raiders open up with the San Diego Chargers. The same team that completely dismantled this defense to the tune of 38 points as they knocked the Raiders out of the playoffs in the 2011 season finale.
They will then travel to face a Dolphins team that has completely owned them in recent history. The Raiders have played Miami in each of the past two seasons and lost both by a combined score of 67-31. And the games weren't even as close as the lopsided scores suggest.
They will then return home to face the Steelers. The Raiders have had a tough time matching up with physical teams the past few seasons, and that was clearly evident when Pittsburgh beat them, 35-3, in 2010, which was the last time these two met.
Following that, they will have to travel to Denver to take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos. Manning is not the QB you want to face if your defense is still ironing out the kinks.
They will then mercifully have a bye week before hitting the road to take on the Falcons, and Atlanta has been nearly unbeatable at home the last two seasons.
Finally, they will get a break following that game as they host the Jaguars, but the damage will have already been done.
Winning just two of their first five games is the best this team can hope for, and an 0-5 start is not out of the question. This will severely test the bond of this new-look franchise, and it will put them in more of a hole than they are capable of overcoming.
Oakland Raiders 2012 Regular Season Schedule
Week 1 9/10: San Diego Chargers vs. Oakland Raiders 10:15 p.m. EDT, ESPN
Week 2 9/16: Oakland Raiders vs. Miami Dolphins 4:15 p.m. EDT, CBS
Week 3 9/23: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders 4:05 p.m. EDT, CBS
Week 4 9/30: Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos 1:05 p.m. EDT, CBS
Week 5 BYE
Week 6 10/14: Oakland Raiders vs. Atlanta Falcons 1:00 p.m. EDT, CBS
Week 7 10/21: Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Oakland Raiders 4:15 p.m. EDT, CBS
Week 8 10/28: Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs 4:05 p.m. EDT, CBS
Week 9 11/4: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Oakland Raiders 4:05 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 10 11/11: Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS
Week 11 11/18: New Orleans Saints vs. Oakland Raiders 4:05 p.m. EST, FOX
Week 12 11/25: Oakland Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS
Week 13 12/2: Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders 4:15 p.m. EST, CBS
Week 14 12/6: Denver Broncos vs. Oakland Raiders 8:20 p.m. EST, NFL Network
Week 15 12/16: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders 4:15 p.m. EST, CBS
Week 16 12/23: Oakland Raiders vs. Carolina Panthers 1:00 p.m. EST, CBS
Week 17 12/30: Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers 4:15 p.m. EST, CBS