Everyone seems to be wondering where the Raiders will be playing in the future, but the NFL revealed Wednesday where they won’t be playing for a large chunk of the 2019 season’s first half.
That’s at home.
Oakland will go six weeks without a home game at Oakland Coliseum — a stretch that begins after the Week 2 home game against Kansas City on Sept. 15 and ends when it returns home on Nov. 3 against Detroit. The NFL schedule-makers did not do much to make Jon Gruden’s second season with the Raiders easier.
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In fact, it’s a remarkable work of art when it comes to unfortunate scheduling for a West Coast team. Let’s take a closer look:
Week 3: At Minnesota
This will be Oakland’s first trip to U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings finished 8-7-1 last season, but they were 5-3 at home.
Week 4: At Indianapolis
The Colts were 6-2 at home last season, and the Raiders lost 42-28 to them in Oakland last season after the Colts scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Week 5: vs. Chicago
It’s a “home” game for the Raiders at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London against the defending NFC North champion Bears and Khalil Mack, who was traded from Oakland last season.
Week 7: At Green Bay
After a bye week, Oakland gets Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at Lambeau Field, where the Raiders haven’t won since 1987.
Week 8: At Houston
Just a visit to see Deshaun Watson and J.J. Watt to end this six-week stretch. No big deal.
The late Al Davis would be fuming.
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Those five teams had a combined .602 winning percentage last season, and Oakland finished 1-7 on the road in 2018. All of the games — even the one in London — will kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific time. Gruden better get his team some alarm clocks.
It gets worse. It’s fair to ask where the season will be after that stretch and if contention is possible in the AFC West, but in another cruel twist, the Raiders’ last three road games are against the Chiefs, Chargers and Broncos in December.
Seriously, who made this schedule?
The Raiders do play three straight home games after the six-week run, against the Lions, Chargers and Bengals, but no team should be asked to do that much traveling without at least one true home game mixed in.
This might even put extra pressure on Gruden and the Raiders heading into the 2019 NFL Draft. They have three first-round picks and must use them to answer for the Mack and Amari Cooper trades. Now, they will have to make those picks knowing the players will spend a significant early chunk of their rookie seasons away from Oakland.
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That doesn’t even take into account what the schedule may do to a fan base that might be watching the Raiders play their final season in Oakland. Will the excitement still be there in November, or will this team be counting the days until it leaves California?
After all, the Raiders are set to move to Las Vegas in 2020, when the city will host the NFL Draft.
Who wants to bet the Raiders get a better schedule when they get there?