The Raiders improved by four games in the standings the last time Jon Gruden coached his first season in Oakland. Twenty years later, the Raiders would love some deja vu to help them get closer ot the 12-4 team they were in 2016, not the disappointing 6-10 of' '17.
What will help Oakland is a favorable strength of schedule based on last season's results. This season's opponents went a combined 121-135 (.473). tied with Cincinnati's schedule for third "easiest."
Drawing the NFC West on top of the AFC West will keep the travel manageable, with the exception of the Raiders "hosting" the Seahawks in London on Oct. 14. Here's a look at all the Raiders' games in 2018 and how well they are positioned to navigate through a overall weak slate.
Raiders schedule 2018
Raiders regular-season schedule
|Date||Opponent||Kickoff time||TV network|
|Sept. 10||vs. Los Angeles Rams||10:20 p.m.||(ESPN)|
|Sept. 16||at Denver Broncos||4:05 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Sept. 23||at Miami Dolphins||1 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Sept. 30||vs. Cleveland Browns||4:05 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 7||at Los Angeles Chargers||4:05 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Oct. 14||vs. Seattle Seahawks (London)||1 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Oct. 28||vs. Indianapolis Colts||4:05 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Nov. 1||at San Francisco 49ers||8:20 p.m.||(FOX/NFLN)|
|Nov. 11||vs. Los Angeles Chargers||4:05 p.m.||(FOX)|
|Nov. 18||at Arizona Cardinals||4:05 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Nov. 25||at Baltimore Ravens||1 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Dec. 2||vs. Kansas City Chiefs||4:05 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Dec. 9||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||8:20 p.m.||(NBC)|
|Dec. 16||at Cincinnati Bengals||1 p.m.||(CBS)|
|Dec. 24||vs. Denver Broncos||8:15 p.m.||(ESPN)|
|Dec. 30||at Kansas City Chiefs||1 p.m.||(CBS)|
Raiders preseason schedule
|Week 2||at Los Angeles Rams|
|Week 3||Green Bay|
|Week 4||at Seattle|
MORE 2018 NFL SCHEDULES:
Five preseason games worth watching
Nov. 18 at Arizona Cardinals 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
Toughest tests: The Raiders were terrible on the road last season, going only 2-6 after they went to the playoffs with a 6-2 mark the season prior. They've got to get back to grinding for Gruden and winning close games away from the Black Hole. Opponent-wise, the Rams and Steelers plus their difficult AFC West foes make the home schedule more daunting in what could be the final season in Oakland. Denver, Kansas City and Los Angeles round out what's arguably the league's best division.
Biggest breaks: The Browns and Colts look like they would be breaks, but really, the most favorable matchups are on the road against the Cardinals, Bengals and Dolphins. Those five games are critical for the Raiders to return to the playoffs.
Bottom line: The Raiders will be significantly better under Gruden in time, but the coaching change plus remixed personnel in a difficult division will hold them back in the short term. Although Oakland will hang around in the AFC wild-card race because of the schedule's weaknesses, the team will fall short of its surprise 2016 form. Record prediction: 8-8