Oakland Raiders Schedule 2017-18: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Entire Season

Maurice Moton@@MoeMotonFeatured ColumnistApril 21, 2017

Oakland Raiders Schedule 2017-18: Game-by-Game Predictions for the Entire Season

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    When the NFL released schedules for the previous season, many placed the Oakland Raiders in the range of 10 or 11 wins. The Silver and Black pushed for 12 wins and narrowly missed an AFC West division crown. After the league revealed the 2017 schedule, the fanbase expects to see continued excellence with a Super Bowl victory at the finish.

    This year, the Raiders’ Super Bowl aspirations fall within reach; it’s no longer far-fetched optimism from a proud fanbase. With some tweaks to the defense and quarterback Derek Carr in full health, the Raiders pose a legitimate threat to the New England Patriots. Of course, they’ll have to clear the first hurdle within the divisionthe Kansas City Chiefs

    It’s fitting the Raiders will match up against the Patriots in Mexico City. Will Oakland find a way to beat Kansas City this year? How many games will the Silver and Black win this season? We’ll go through each game with early predraft analysis and game-by-game predictions.

Week 1: Oakland Raiders at Tennessee Titans

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Sept. 10, at 10 a.m. PT on CBS

    The Raiders beat the Tennessee Titans in a low-scoring 17-10 outcome last year. Expect another physical grinder between the two teams. Ironically, both quarterbacks, who suffered broken fibulas in Week 16 of the previous season, will shake off the cobwebs in their first games.

    The Titans' exotic smashmouth ground attack will pose more problems for the run defense. The Raiders absolutely need an interior defender to fill his role as a gap-stuffer who’s able to penetrate the Titans' rough-and-tumble offensive line. 

    Despite wide receivers Rishard Matthews' and Tajae Sharpe’s contributions in the previous season, Delanie Walker will pose the biggest receiving threat to the Raiders defense. Safety coverage will be a key factor in limiting the Titans' veteran tight end downfield.

    Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s secondary still needs time to develop before it’s able to stop high-end passing attacks. Wide receiver Amari Cooper will show up huge in this matchup with a 100-yard game.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 27-17

    Record: 1-0

Week 2: New York Jets at Oakland Raiders

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Sept. 17, at 1:05 p.m. PT on CBS

    Head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t use the term cupcake to describe the New York Jets on the schedule, but it’s a game the Raiders should win. Gang Green hasn’t established its franchise signal-caller, the front office must reconstruct the secondary after releasing cornerback Darrelle Revis and the roster lost several veteran players during the offseason. 

    Cornerbacks David Amerson and Sean Smith will look like Pro Bowlers against a conservative Jets offense predicated on short pass plays and the ground attack. This contest may spiral out of control before halftime. New York won’t have to pick its poison because Oakland will supply both in a balanced attack.

    Quarterback Carr should accumulate 300-plus passing yards. The bruising ball-carrier in the backfield, whether it’s Marshawn Lynch or a rookie, should have plenty of opportunities to score in goal-line situations.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 41-16

    Record: 2-0

Week 3: Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Sept. 24, at 5:30 p.m. PT on NBC

    The Washington Redskins went through a rocky offseason. The front office ousted general Scot McCloughan in a bizarre and public breakup. For the time being, quarterback Kirk Cousins signed another franchise tag worth $23.9 million, per Spotrac, which places another Band-Aid on the team’s outlook at the most important position on the roster. 

    The Raiders front seven shouldn’t have an issue stonewalling running backs Rob Kelley, Chris Thompson or Matt Jones. Furthermore, Cousins lost two starting wide receivers in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. The latter would’ve been critical to beating Amerson or Smith deep. Though, wideout Terrelle Pryor may burn the secondary for a catch or two.

    With turnover at the top and long-term uncertainty at quarterback, expect a down season for Washington. Change and a tentative future for Cousins won’t serve the Redskins well. Times have changed. The Redskins will be embroiled in turmoil. Personnel-wise, it's the Raiders who have dotted their i's and crossed their t's.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 31-20

    Record: 3-0

Week 4: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Oct. 1, at 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS

    The Raiders didn’t see running back C.J. Anderson, who only played seven games, on the field in the previous season. If he’s healthy enough to play in the backfield alongside Devontae Booker, the Broncos have enough to target the Raiders front seven on the ground and in the short passing attack.

    Despite hiring a defensive-minded head coach in Vance Joseph, the Broncos have offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave on staff to fill in the blind spots. Both assistants possess insight on the Raiders as an opponent and former assistant to Del Rio.

    Quarterback Trevor Siemian will hand off approximately 30 times to test the Raiders’ defensive front. Short passes to the running backs in the flat will haunt Ken Norton’s defense throughout the contest. The Broncos win a tight game at home and hand the Raiders their first loss.

    Prediction: Loss

    Score: 26-23

    Record: 3-1

Week 5: Baltimore Ravens at Oakland Raiders

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Oct. 8, at 1:05 p.m. PT on CBS

    The Baltimore Ravens' passing attack took a hit once wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. decided to retire. Quarterback Joe Flacco lost two offensive linemen from the previous campaign. Right tackle Ricky Wagner signed with the Detroit Lions, and the team traded center Jeremy Zuttah to San Francisco 49ers.

    The Raiders should be able to limit the Ravens’ aerial attack. Expect pass-rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin to accumulate several sacks in this contest.

    It’s not a complete rebuild, but Baltimore’s front seven will look slightly different without edge-rusher Elvis Dumervil and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Offensive coordinator Todd Downing should test the Ravens run defense early in the matchup. Overall, Oakland will have success moving the ball on Baltimore’s transitioning defense.

    Either DeAndre Washington or Jalen Richard will break out for a 100-yard game on extended runs.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 34-23

    Record: 4-1

Week 6: Los Angeles Chargers at Oakland Raiders

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Oct. 15, at 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS

    Don’t circle the Los Angeles Chargers as an automatic win. The Raiders beat the Chargers by three points in both victories in the previous season—one without running back Latavius Murray.

    Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa debuted with two sacks against the Raiders in the previous campaign. He’s already shaping up as a tough individual rival for the offensive line. Los Angeles will ask for more from running back Melvin Gordon after Danny Woodhead signed with the Ravens. 

    The Raiders' new defensive assistant, John Pagano, should have insight on his former group in terms of individual strengths and weaknesses. Expect a 300-plus yard game for Carr in this contest. The ground attack may struggle against a defense that ranked No. 10 in rushing yards allowed last year. Nonetheless, Oakland wins at home by a double-digit margin.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 34-24

    Record: 5-1

Week 7: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders

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    Kickoff time and network: Thursday, Oct. 19, at 5:25 p.m. PT on NFL Network

    Before even thinking about challenging the Patriots, the Raiders have to conquer the Chiefs. Oakland has lost five consecutive games to its division rival.

    It seems the Raiders need all their stars aligned to beat the Chiefs. Carr must be healthy and not turn the ball over. The ball-carriers must attack downhill behind offensive guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson. Last year, Murray experienced success against the Chiefs' porous front seven. This year, the new featured back will have to handle the load with 12 to 15 carries through the middle. 

    Nonetheless, interior linemen Bennie Logan and Chris Jones stand in the way as major obstacles in the trenches. Downing should mix in short passes to Washington and Richard to keep the defense honest. Eventually, Carr will have an opportunity to pierce the secondary.

    The Raiders get over the Kansas City hump in overtime with a game-winning field goal.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 23-20 (OT)

    Record: 6-1

Week 8: Oakland Raiders at Buffalo Bills

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Oct. 29, at 10 a.m. PT on CBS

    The Buffalo Bills have a new regime in place with head coach Sean McDermott in position to lead this team in another direction. The Bills ground attack remains intact. Last year, Buffalo’s ball-carriers gouged the Raiders front seven for 212 yards in a loss.

    The Bills will field a top-five rushing offense in the upcoming season, which puts the Raiders on high alert in this contest. It’s important for general manager Reggie McKenzie to address the linebacker position with athletic talents who can plunge downhill with reliable tackling technique.

    Downing should opt to attack the void Stephon Gilmore left behind in the secondary. Similar to the previous season, the cornerbacks will press on Cooper. The Bills have the personnel to play keep-away against the Raiders. However, the Raiders offensive should be able to find holes in the secondary down the stretch. Carr will lead a late-game surge that quarterback Tyrod Taylor can't answer late in the fourth quarter.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 31-27

    Record: 7-1

Week 9: Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Nov. 5, at 5:30 p.m. PT on NBC

    The Miami Dolphins have the offensive line talent to create opportunities in the run and passing attacks, but Ryan Tannehill remains inconsistent in his production under center. In fact, head coach Adam Gase has placed a significant load on running back Jay Ajayi to fill in the gaps and lead the attack. 

    Tannehill’s pass completion percentage rose from 61 to 67 percent over the past two seasons. The Raiders' big cornerbacks must disrupt timing with the receivers or stuff Ajayi in the backfield.

    Miami lost defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who took the Broncos head coach position. Turnover in the defensive system provides an opening for the Raiders' aerial attack. Quick passes to Washington, Richard and the tight ends keep pass-rushers Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake away from Carr in the pocket. 

    The Raiders win a physical contest against a tough AFC East opponent.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 27-23

    Record: 8-1

Week 11: New England Patriots at Oakland Raiders (Mexico City)

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Nov. 19, at 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS

    Though it’s listed as a home game, Mexico City isn’t home to the Raiders, which means the NFL stripped the team of its eighth contest at the Oakland Coliseum.

    At a neutral site, the Raiders will face their toughest opponent of the season in the defending champions. After a 12-4 campaign, many wonder if the Raiders can knock the Patriots off the AFC pedestal. We’ll get our first glimpse in Week 11. 

    Quarterback Tom Brady hasn’t shown much wear and tear. He’s still equipped to carve up the Raiders secondary, especially with a healthy Rob Gronkowski at tight end. Oakland’s defense can’t allow ample yardage to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' opportunistic unit. In the previous season, New England scored touchdowns on 62.5 percent of its red-zone trips, per Team Rankings.

    The Patriots acquired cornerback Stephon Gilmore to replace Logan Ryan. However, cornerback Malcolm Butler could be on his way out, per MMQB’s Albert Breer via CSN New England. Carr will have an opening in the secondary to target. However, Oakland will have to match touchdowns with New England, which isn’t a great strategy. 

    The Raiders keep the game close throughout but fall to head coach Bill Belichick, who’s a mastermind in situational football.

    Prediction: Loss

    Score: 30-24

    Record: 8-2

Week 12: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Nov. 26, at 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS

    This contest should be wideout Michael Crabtree’s revenge game against cornerback Aqib Talib’s snatch-and-run chain-popping incident in Week 17 last year. Expect the veteran wideout to perform at his best for a silent payback. Remember, Carr didn’t play in the second meeting between these two teams in 2016.

    Oakland will take the field with the intent to make a statement against Denver. This contest may resemble the Week 9 outing from the previous campaign. The biggest tailback in the Raiders backfield should have a huge game with two or more goal-line scores.

    With several weeks for the defense to jell, Oakland will avenge its Week 4 loss to the Broncos. At this point, depending on Denver's record, we may also see Lynch under center full time. As he finds his way, the Raiders roll to a victory.

    Prediction: Win 

    Score: 31-20 

    Record: 9-2

Week 13: New York Giants at Oakland Raiders

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Dec. 3, at 1:25 p.m. PT on Fox

    The New York Giants will field a strong wide receiver group, which features Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard. It’s a tough task for a secondary that’s still trying to find its way.

    The Raiders must bank on winning a shootout with the Giants. The teams will likely combine for 70 or more points. Don’t rule out an overtime period. Oakland has a more balanced offense, but New York fields a much better defense. Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon will challenge the Raiders offensive line. 

    In a small subplot, offensive tackle Marshall Newhouse could start against his former team. Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will single him out as the weak link in the trenches. 

    Quick-twitch receivers Beckham and Sterling will present major issues after the catch, especially when lining up on the perimeter. New York will have one critical stop to hang on to the victory late in an overtime period. 

    Prediction: Loss

    Score: 38-35 (OT)

    Record: 9-3

Week 14: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m. PT on CBS

    The Raiders need to crawl before they’re running over the Chiefs. After snapping a five-game losing streak to the division rival, Kansas City will go back to the drawing board and fire back at home.

    The Chiefs secondary has experienced success in keeping the action in front of the deep safety—not allowing Carr to throw over the top to Cooper and Crabtree. Recently, defensive backs Marcus Peters and Eric Berry have been instrumental in frustrating the Raiders passing offense. 

    After hosting a field day for the running backs in the first meeting, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton will tighten the bolts and limit the ground attack. 

    Quarterback Alex Smith, the best game manager in the league, protects the football and completes 75 percent of his passes in a home victory. 

    Prediction: Loss 

    Score: 27-23

    Record: 9-4

Week 15: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Dec. 17, at 5:30 p.m. PT on NBC

    The Dallas Cowboys and Raiders share multiple similarities: strong offensive lines and weak pass defenses.

    Fans will see two of the top offensive lines at work within the same game. Though, the Raiders should find success against the Cowboys pass defense, which ranked No. 26 in yards allowed in the previous season. The Cowboys secondary lost safety Barry Church via free agency and replaced cornerback Morris Claiborne with Nolan Carroll.

    Commentators will emphasize the offensive line comparison with the rushing attacks, but both teams will take shots downfield to accumulate chunk yardage.

    Quarterback Dak Prescott will put together an Alex Smith-esque performance with short throws to the running backs and tight end Jason Witten. He'll stay away from turnovers and allow the ground attack to control the game. The Cowboys' ball control offense holds the ball for about 37 minutes for the Sunday night victory.

    Prediction: Loss

    Score: 31-27

    Record: 9-5

Week 16: Oakland Raiders at Philadelphia Eagles

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    Kickoff time and network: Monday, Dec. 25, at 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPN

    The Philadelphia Eagles added a big receiving target in wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, but the ground attack remains a question mark. Doug Pederson made questionable decisions in tight games as a rookie head coach in the previous season. Despite offensive roster improvements, Del Rio should outcoach the second-year skipper in this matchup.

    The Eagles secondary hurts their chance of winning this contest at home. Cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson won’t be able to cover Cooper and Crabtree for 60 minutes. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz may try jamming at the line of scrimmage, but Oakland's offense fields too many weapons to keep every receiver under wraps.

    Quarterback Carson Wentz flashed his brilliance throughout his rookie campaign. However, with a year of tape on file, the Raiders defense will shine against a one-dimensional offense.

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 34-21

    Record: 10-5

Week 17: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers

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    Kickoff time and network: Sunday, Dec. 31, at 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS

    The Chargers offense should put up points, but the defense will sputter for a second time against the Raiders. If wide receiver Keenan Allen stays healthy along with tight ends Antonio Gates and Hunter Henry, the two offenses will put on a show late in the year. Though, Gordon isn’t efficient with his carries. He ran for fewer than four yards per rush in consecutive years. 

    Quarterback Philip Rivers has the tools to go short and dig deep against the secondary, but the pass defense needs another year to complement a solid front seven. As long as the Chargers struggle to defend the perimeter, the Raiders will continue to take advantage of their rivals moving to Los Angeles.

    Expect another Silver and Black offensive explosion in this contest. Carr may dole out 400 passing yards against Los Angeles. The Raiders sweep their season series with the Chargers for a third consecutive year. 

    Prediction: Win

    Score: 37-26

    Record: 11-5

    Stats provided by NFL.com and Pro Football Reference unless otherwise noted.