Oakland Raiders Schedule 2014: Win-Loss Predictions for Every Game
For an active offseason for the Oakland Raiders to pay off, they have to start winning games. Since opponents are known way in advance, the 2014 schedule release just sets dates and times. Of course, that doesn't stop the NFL from turning it into an event with plenty of hype.
Things like travel, the bye week and even start times can have an impact on the outcome of games, so a schedule can still be very important. While some schedule impacts will not become clear until more time has passed, there is still plenty to glean from when the Raiders might play a particular opponent.
Teams may be incomplete at this point in the offseason, but they are complete enough for educated guessing. Save a few surprises every year, it's not that hard to predict how a team like the Raiders will fair against their opponents within the framework of the 2014 schedule.
Week 1: Oakland Raiders at New York Jets
Kickoff: Sunday, September 7, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. PT
The Raiders will travel to New York for the third time in the last two seasons, the second time to play the Jets. Last season, the Jets didn't have much trouble with the Raiders and went into halftime with a 20-3 lead. A blocked punt contributed to the scoring against the Raiders and the defense couldn't get off the field.
Although the Jets were just 8-8 last season, they were 6-2 at home. In both losses, it was their offense that let them down. The Jets took steps to rectify that problem. The Jets signed quarterback Michael Vick to push Geno Smith, running back Chris Johnson and wide receiver Eric Decker.
Even though the Raiders should be better next year, traveling to the east coast is still tough. The Jets improved in free agency and have proven they play well in front of their home crowd. It could be a close game, but it's going to be a tough game for the Raiders to win.
Week 2: Houston Texans at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. PT
Quarterback Matt Schaub gets to face his former team at the favorable confines of O.co Coliseum. The Raiders have had a lot of success against the Texans over the past few years, but they will be a much different team in 2014 with a new head coach and new starting quarterback.
The Texans still have defensive end J.J. Watt and wide receiver Andre Johnson, but they were still the worst team in the league last year with those two players. It's also reasonable to say the Raiders improved more than the Texans this offseason.
It's tough to predict how coaching in Houston might make a difference, but this is the type of game at home the Raiders can't afford to lose. If the Raiders lose a game like this, it's going to be hard for the team to achieve a record that is good enough to save head coach Dennis Allen from the chopping block.
Week 3: Oakland Raiders at New England Patriots
Kickoff: Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. PT
The Raiders have been atrocious when traveling to the east coast in recent years. Allen still doesn't have a win in the eastern time zone as the head coach—he's 0-7. The Raiders have come close to victories on the east coast, but they will have to do better than close against a team like the New England Patriots.
A lot like the Broncos, the Patriots are tough to beat at home. In the last two seasons, the Patriots have lost just two home games. One game was an 18-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 2 of the 2012 season, and the other was a playoff loss to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship game in January 2013. The Patriots were perfect at home during the 2013 season and postseason.
The Patriots are still one of the best teams in the AFC, so the Raiders will have to play their best to even have a shot.
Week 4: Miami Dolphins at Oakland Raiders (London)
Kickoff: Sunday, September 28. 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
The Raiders will set sail across the Atlantic ocean to play the Miami Dolphins in London on September 28 in a game that starts at 6 p.m. local time. That's a 10 a.m. start on the west coast, which makes it like a trip to the east coast with a lot more travel time for the Raiders.
The games in London are always a bit sloppy, presumably because the travel. The Raiders have struggled for several years traveling east, so the travel isn't something to ignore.
Last year, the Dolphins had similar production offensively as the Raiders, but a much better defense. The Raiders have improved their defense significantly this offseason, so the two teams could be quite even in 2014 pending the outcome of the draft.
The Raiders had to give up a home game to play in London, but they also have a large international fanbase. Don't be surprised if the fans are a little more one-sided than they would normally be for a game in London.
Week 5: Bye Week
The Raiders will use the bye week to get in some extra rest. The vacation to Hawaii can wait until March.
Week 6: San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Sunday, October 5, 2014 at 1:05 p.m. PT
One of the best games of the year for the Raiders last season came against the San Diego Chargers at home. The Raiders won 27-17, but it was 24-3 after three quarters.
After the game against the Chargers, Pryor looked like he could be the quarterback of the present and future for the Raiders. It was the high point of the season for the Raiders as they had a 2-3 record headed to Kansas City.
The Chargers are a team that relies on their ground game and the short passing game. Both those attributes play into the strengths of the Raiders.
While the Raiders have changed a lot this offseason, the Chargers didn't have a lot of cap space to work with to improve in free agency. The much-improved Raiders should be able to get something going against what was one of the worst defense in the league last year.
As long as the Raiders can get after quarterback Philip Rivers a little bit with their collection of older pass-rushers, they have a very good chance to win this game.
Week 7: Arizona Cardinals at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Sunday, October 19, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. PT
Quarterback Carson Palmer returns to Oakland to face the team that traded two first-round draft picks for him a few years ago. The Raiders are still trying to recovers from the lost draft picks, the sting left by his massive contract and the lack of having a respectable quarterback on the roster last season.
The Raiders hope 2014 can be a turning point, but the Arizona Cardinals will not be an easy team to beat. One thing the Raiders have going for them is an intimate knowledge of Palmer. It's also a home game which is usually worth about an extra field goal.
Arizona's defense is what the Raiders really have to worry about. Last season, the Cardinals were ranked sixth or better in just about every defensive category including points allowed, yards per play and turnovers. The defense led the Cardinals to 10-6 with only a loss in Week 1 to a non-playoff team.
The Raiders have a chance in this one given the location and their knowledge of Palmer, but it could come down to which defense forces more turnovers. At this point, the Cardinals are a much-better bet to do so.
Week 8: Oakland Raiders at Cleveland Browns
Kickoff: Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. PT
The Cleveland Browns are loaded with talent and they have two first-round draft picks. The only thing missing in Cleveland is a quarterback to put it all together. It's tough to predict right now which team might have the edge in a game in Cleveland because the draft hasn't taken place.
Until we know what happens in the draft, the Browns don't have a viable quarterback unless you consider Brian Hoyer who is coming off a torn ACL. Even then, it's tough to know if a rookie will have an immediate positive impact.
The Brown won't be an easy team to beat even with concerns at quarterback, but if the Raiders are going to win a game or two on the road, they'll need to win games like this.
Week 9: Oakland Raiders at Seattle Seahawks
Kickoff: Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. PT
Beating the defending Super Bowl Champs in Seattle? Good luck. The Seahawks have just one loss at home over the last two years, a 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 16 last season.
If the Raiders are even competitive in this game, that's a great sign for the future of the Raiders. The Seahawks trounced good teams at home last year, so staying in the game can be an accomplishment.
To beat the Seahawks, the Raiders will need to figure out a way to put up a few scores on a great defense. Schaub did get the Houston Texans into overtime against the Seahawks last season in Houston by doing just that.
Unfortunately for the Texans, they didn't score anything in the second half and their defense couldn't hold. Schaub threw an interception in the fourth quarter that was returned for a touchdown and tied the game at 20.
Week 10: Denver Broncos at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Sunday, November 9, 2014 at 1:05 p.m. PT
The Raiders lost both games against the Denver Broncos last season by a combined score of 71-35. The Broncos barely broke a sweat beating the Raiders, but there is reason to believe things could be a little different in 2014.
For starters, the Raiders should be much better at the quarterback position. Terrelle Pryor started both games against the Broncos last season. Even more important is a defense that should be able to slow Peyton Manning down a little bit.
With the gap slightly closed between the two teams from a talent perspective, weirder things have happened than the Raiders getting a victory at home. Games within the division seem to be more competitive, so you can't count the Raiders out entirely.
Given what we know today, the Broncos are the clearly superior team. The Raiders can take some solace in knowing that Manning can't last forever.
Week 11: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers
Kickoff: Sunday, November 16, 2014 at 1:05 p.m. PT
The Raiders played the Chargers tough last season, even in a 26-13 loss in San Diego. In the loss, the Raiders were tied with the Chargers at halftime, but their offense stalled and the defense couldn't get a stop in the third quarter.
Playing in San Diego is always like an extra home game for the Raiders because the stadium is about half full of the Raider Nation. Given that the Chargers have been cap-strapped this offseason and their biggest move was signing running back Donald Brown, the Raiders could very well pull off a sweep of the Chargers with an improved roster.
That's not to say that a sweep would be a good prediction. The Raiders still aren't at the level where a sweep of a division opponent is likely. The Raiders are just as likely to lose both games against the Chargers as win both of them, so split of the season series is the best bet at this stage of the offseason.
Week 12: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 5:25 p.m. PT
Network: CBS, NFL Network
The Raiders got embarrassed on their own field against the Chiefs in 2013. Running back Jamaal Charles put on a show by running around, over and through Oakland's defense. Most of the damage Charles did was in the passing game, with 195 of his 215 yards coming through the air.
On the bright side, the Raiders scored more points (31) at home against the Chiefs than any other team in 2013. The biggest changes the Raiders made this offseason were on the defensive side of the ball and at quarterback.
Had quarterback Matt McGloin not thrown four interceptions and the defense been able to tackle Charles a few times, the result of this game could have been much different. This is a division game at home and the Chiefs haven't done much to improve this offseason.
Week 13: Oakland Raiders at St. Louis Rams
Kickoff: Sunday, November 30, 2014 at 10:00 a.m.
The St. Louis Rams went 7-9 in a tough division and beat a couple playoff teams in 2013, but they weren't much better than their record indicated. The Rams had a below-average offense and average defense in 2013 in terms of points allowed.
Quarterback Sam Bradford is one of the biggest wild cards for the Rams. For the time being, the Rams are standing behind Bradford, but he has a lot to prove in 2014. The Raiders will likely have to take advantage of him to win the game.
Pass-rusher Robert Quinn is a dangerous player and the Rams should add another elite talent to the fold since they hold the rights to the No. 2 overall pick. A top player in this draft could have a big or small impact on the outcome of football games as a rookie depending on the player and position.
The Rams lost to only one non-playoff team at home last season, so the Raiders are going to need a very good performance to beat them. Even though the Rams may have a slight edge, this seems like a winnable road game for the Raiders.
Week 14: San Francisco 49ers at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Sunday, December 7, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. PT
With a shiny new stadium sitting vacant just a few minutes down Interstate 880, the San Francisco 49ers will travel north to play the Raiders at O.co Stadium. The game will mark the first time the two teams have played since they stopped playing a preseason game annually for bay area bragging rights.
After violence erupted at a game at Candlestick park, the series was ended due to safety concerns. The 49ers have since implemented policies that the Raiders have used for years to keep fans safe at games.
From an on-field perspective, the 49ers are one of the best teams in the NFC, and the Raiders are trying to claw their way back to respectability. If the Raiders can pull off a victory, it would qualify as one of their biggest wins of the year.
Week 15: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: Sunday, December 14, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. PT
The Kansas City Chiefs really took it to the Raiders last year at home. The first cracks in quarterback Terrelle Pryor's game became apparent in Kansas City, and the Raiders lost 24-7.
The gap should close in 2014. The Chiefs are paying off the debt their incurred turning things around last season while the Raiders have been able to spend a large nest egg on free agents
Still, playing in Kansas City is always tough and the Chiefs aren't going to disappear overnight. A split between the two AFC West rivals seems to be the best bet.
Week 16: Buffalo Bills at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: Sunday, December 21, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. PT
The last time the Raiders played the Buffalo Bills, they lost on a field goal with just 14 second left. That was back in 2011, so a lot has changed for both teams.
The Bills have a solid defense that allowed just 4.9 yards per play and forced 30 turnovers in 2013. Their defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, did such a good job he was hired as the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. They also lost free safety Jarius Bryd in free agency, one of the best players in the league at his position.
Offensively, the Bills were poor last year. It's a big offseason for quarterback EJ Manuel who didn't even complete 60 percent of his passes in 10 starts as a rookie last season.
The Bills are the type of team the Raiders need to beat at home to have any chance at a successful season. The Bills didn't do much to improve in 2014 in free agency, which means any improvement is yet to be realized.
Week 17: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Kickoff: Sunday, December 28, 2014 at 1:25 p.m. PT
The Raiders haven't even been competitive in Denver since a win in 2011. At the time, Kyle Orton was still the starting quarterback. It also happened to be Raiders' head coach Dennis Allen's first game as a defensive coordinator.
Denver improved their defense this offseason and ensured their offense would be just as prolific as it has been for the last two seasons. Even if the Raiders were a good team, playing the Broncos at home would be a big challenge.
In the last two seasons, the Broncos have lost at home three times. The first loss was a 25-31 loss to the Houston Texans in Week 4, the second was a 35-38 overtime thriller in the playoffs against the eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens and the third was 20-27 loss to the San Diego Chargers on a Thursday night last season.