The Las Vegas Raiders officially have a 2020 NFL schedule for their inaugural season away from Oakland and Los Angeles. How will their change of scenery and renewed optimism match their latest slate?
The Raiders stayed in playoff contention through Week 17 of last season with a 7-9 record. That was a three-game improvement from coach Jon Gruden's first year back with the organization in 2018. If they can do it again, the Raiders would get to 10-6 and post their first winning season since going 12-4 as an AFC wild-card team in 2016.
In Oakland, after winning the AFC in 2002 with Gruden, the 2016 season marked the only time since that the Raiders finished with a winning record. The Raiders face their next schedule with the blank slate that is a new identity and a new home stadium.
Can the Raiders follow through on their upward trajectory to get back to truly contending for the AFC playoffs in 2020?
Here is a complete breakdown of the Raiders’ 2020 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis for all 16 games.
Las Vegas Raiders schedule 2020
at Carolina Panthers
Sept. 21 (Monday)
New Orleans Saints
at New England Patriots
at Kansas City Chiefs
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
at Cleveland Browns
at Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs
at Atlanta Falcons
at New York Jets
Dec. 17 (Thursday)
Los Angeles Chargers
at Denver Broncos
(For Canadian viewers, each game can be streamed on DAZN.)
The Raiders get Tom Brady's Buccaneers and Drew Brees' Saints traveling to Las Vegas from their NFC South interdivision draw. Philip Rivers also won't be forgotten in his move from the Chargers, as he'll be coming in with the Colts.
Seeing Patrick Mahomes and the archrival Chiefs twice will be fun as usual, especially with a brand-new stadium involved. The Raiders have developed a recent habit of seeing the Browns and the Jets, and they end up drawing both fellow third-place tams in games that could have sneaky wild-card implications.
Gruden will need his team to do some high-level grinding both in a new home and away, and further offensive and defensive reinforcements can be a big help with that.
Raiders strength of schedule
Based on 2019 combined winning percentage of their 2020 opponents (127-129, .496) the Raiders have either the 12th easiest or 21st toughest schedule. That's a big change from last year, when the Raiders' opponents went a league-best 137-117-2 in 2018.
The bad news for Las Vegas is the fact that last year's schedule became easier than it was on paper, and this year's group of games is considerably tougher than it looks. In reality, the Broncos and Raiders have it much more difficult than what the records indicate, in a reverse from last season. The Chiefs and Chargers, meanwhile, have it easier.
Toughest tests: The Raiders, in their adjustment to a more neutral home, won't have any advantages with the Chiefs and Bills coming to Las Vegas. Derek Carr also needs to win home duels against Brady, Brees and Rivers.
The road slate includes trips to the Eastern time zone for five games outside of the division, with weather playing some factor at the Patriots, Jets and Browns. Inside the division, having the Chiefs and improved Broncos twice each hurts the Raiders' playoff chances.
Biggest breaks: The Raiders might benefit from the Chargers being in transition to at least try to make third place the floor. They also are capable of splitting with the Broncos.
Outside of the division, the Dolphins are by far their most beatable visiting foes. The Falcons, Panthers, Browns and Jets present some good opportunities on the road, and the Patriots might not be as daunting without Brady as they usually are.
There are multiple chances for breakthrough games. The Raiders need to take advantage of a few for any significant improvement in 2020.
Bottom line: The Raiders are a team adjusting to a new city coming off an offseason with unusual circumstances, some of which can spill over into the regular season. That makes them one of the most unpredictable teams in 2020. Their 7-9 previous record adds to the difficulty of their latest projection.
With that said, they are going in the right direction with their roster overhaul under Gruden and GM Mike Mayock. Over the past two years, they have added 16 key starters. The talent is there to add maybe another win, but consistent obstacles on the schedule likely won't allow for more than that.
Record prediction: 8-8