As the Oakland Raiders move onto the second year of the Reggie McKenzie/Dennis Allen era, they will look to improve on last season's dismal 4-12 campaign and climb the ranks in the AFC West.
After an offseason of change, the Raiders will look different from last year. The team made numerous personnel and coaching changes, including a switch at offensive coordinator to Greg Olson.
Olson, along with new offensive line coach Tony Sparano, will bring back a power-blocking scheme with the hopes of boosting the run game. Ideally, this scheme change will benefit running back Darren McFadden and help get the offense back on track as a whole.
Now that the complete 2013 NFL schedule has been released, let's take a look at the dates and times of Oakland's matchups this year, along with some analysis below.
|2013 Oakland Raiders Schedule|
|1||Sept. 8 ||@ Indianapolis Colts||1 p.m.||CBS|
|2||Sept. 15 ||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|3||Sept. 23 ||@ Denver Broncos||8:40 p.m.||ESPN|
|4||Sept. 29||vs. Washington Redskins||4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|5||Oct. 6||vs. San Diego Chargers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|6||Oct. 13||@ Kansas City Chiefs||1 p.m.||CBS|
|8||Oct. 27||Pittsburgh Steelers||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|9||Nov. 3||Philadelphia Eagles||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|10||No. 10||@ New York Giants||1 p.m.||CBS|
|11||Nov. 17||@ Houston Texans||1 p.m.||CBS|
|12||Nov. 24||vs. Tennessee Titans||4:05 p.m||CBS|
|13||Nov. 28||@ Dallas Cowboys||4:30 p.m.||CBS|
|14||Dec. 8||@ New York Jets||1 p.m.||CBS|
|15||Dec. 15||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|16||Dec. 22 ||@ San Diego Chargers||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 29 ||vs. Denver Broncos||4:25 p.m.||CBS|
Note: For a complete look at Oakland's 2013 schedule, check out NFL.com.
The good news for the Raiders is that with an opponents record of 120-136, the Raiders face the league's fourth-easiest schedule.
However, considering the Raiders are coming off of a 4-12 schedule, it's not like any of these games should be viewed as easy.
The big factor in the Raiders favorable strength of schedule is the fact that they get two games against the Chiefs and Chargers.
Another challenging aspect of this schedule is all the travel. This includes two cross-country trips to New York.
Along with the road games against the Jets and Giants, the Raiders face tough road trips to Dallas, Houston and Indianapolis to take on the Cowboys, Texans and Colts.
Given the fact that the Raiders were 24th in yards allowed per pass last season (h/t Team Rankings), none of those games against those respective passing offenses bodes well for them.
The home schedule looks a little easier but doesn't lack for excitement, as Oakland will host the Redskins and dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Philadelphia Eagles with new coach Chip Kelly.
With the help of the Black Hole in Oakland, the Raiders will need to contain those explosive offenses.
It is hard to see the Raiders emerging from this schedule with a winning record.
Most Pivotal Matchup
The Denver Broncos enter the season as one of the favorites for the Super Bowl after dominating the regular season last year and winning the division. While the Raiders are at a distinct talent disadvantage against their division rival, these games will give them a chance to measure their progress.
The Broncos swept the Raiders last season by a combined margin of victory of 44 points. Peyton Manning will have yet another weapon this year in Wes Welker, so Denver will clearly still be a challenging opponent.
Given that head coach Dennis Allen came to the Raiders after being the Broncos defensive coordinator, these games should hold extra importance for the head coach, and it will be a great test to see how well Allen can prepare his team for big games.
More importantly, if the Raiders want to prove they are indeed making progress, finding a way to challenge the Broncos is a necessary prerequisite.