Bye Week Reset: Taking A Look At The Raiders’ Remaining Schedule

Believe it or not, the Oakland Raiders have a winning record, are in second place in the AFC West (by just a half-game) and are currently projected to make the playoffs. Raise your hand if you thought that was possible back in training camp? Okay, how about post-Antonio-Brown-debacle? What about after the beatdowns from the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings?

Guessing at this point that all hands are down — which goes to show just how impressive the Raiders’ wins over the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears truly were (especially considering neither was a true home game). But now? It’s time to find out what’s for real and what isn’t.

In the next two weeks, the Raiders travel to the Green Bay Packers and Houston Texans to play a pair of teams who are a combined 9-3 on the season. And while they’ll be substantial underdogs in both games, they will offer an opportunity for head coach Jon Gruden and Co. to figure out whether they belong on this stage or not.

Beyond those two games, the good news for the Raiders is that things will get a bit easier — as the Raiders boast the 13th-easiest schedule in the league from here on out (including their games against the Packers and Texans). So, with the bye week behind us, let’s look at what the next 11 weeks will look like…

Week 7: at Green Bay Packers (5-1)

Week 8: at Houston Texans (4-2)

Can the Raiders split these games? If so, the playoffs are within reach. If not? The season isn’t over, but the margin for error disappears.

Week 9: vs. Detroit Lions (2-2-1)

Week 10: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)

The Lions probably deserve better than their record, and the Chargers are always going to be a tough matchup within the division. The fact that both of these are home games (after such a long stretch away from Oakland) makes them more comfortable. It feels like a 5-4 record at this point isn’t out of the question, which would set them up for a strong stretch run.

Week 11: vs. Cincinnati Bengals (0-6)

Week 12: at New York Jets (1-4)

If we’re looking towards the playoffs, these are both must-wins (despite the Jets looking good last week against the Dallas Cowboys).

Week 13: at Kansas City Chiefs (4-2)

On the road in Kansas City feels like a tall task, but the Chiefs have looked mortal two weeks in a row now. If the Raiders are healthy, this could be a fun one.

Week 14: vs. Tennessee Titans (2-4)

Week 15: vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-4)

Week 16: at Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)

Week 17: at Denver Broncos (2-4)

Four straight games against teams well below .500 to end the season could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Then again, the Jaguars, Chargers and Broncos all feel like they’re far better than their record would indicate.

Prediction: 9-7

At the beginning of the season I predicted 8-8 — but that was before the Antonio Brown saga. Then again, it was also before the team started 3-2. This is what I wrote about the team before the season: “If Oakland can get out of the first half of the season at 3-5, I’d consider it a minor miracle.” Well? They’ve already got the three wins, so miracle granted!

I think the Raiders get to 5-5 through 10 weeks, get to 7-5 after the Jets and Bengals, lose to the Chiefs and then split the final four games of the season. I think right now the Raiders have a special group of guys, but they still lack the high-end talent and depth needed to survive a 16-game season. While those last four games appear super winnable now, a lot can (and will change) between now and then.

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