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Raiders schedule is not so tough

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Since the NFL released its NFL schedules for the season, there have been a great many people who have been dreading the Raiders' schedule. But as it turns out, it isn't quite as terrible as one might think.

The entire AFC West has some tough competition due to the fact that they are facing the a couple of tough divisions in the AFC North and NFC South. Those two divisions boast five playoff teams from last season-- the Saints, Falcons, Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals.

On the flip side, they also have two 4-win teams in the Browns and Buccaneers as well as the six-win Panthers.

Where the primary difference in the strength of schedule among a division occurs is in the two teams that are not in the AFC West or the two divisions each team will play. In that case, it was the Broncos who were dealt the worst hand.

The Broncos get to play two playoff teams from last season, one of whom was in the Super Bowl. They were scheduled the Texans and the Patriots. In fact, those were the ONLY teams that made the playoffs from those divisions which means none of the teams the Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers will face were playoff teams last season. And only one even had a winning record (Titans).

The Raider drew the Dolphins and Jaguars who had a combined record of 11-21 last season.

And while last season's record should not be the be all and end all when deciding a strength of schedule, it plays a factor. The problem with using just last year's records when deciding strength of schedule is it doesn't take into consideration how much each team has changed since then.

So beyond the bets went one step farther and factored in Phil Steele's power rankings in his NFL preview magazine to tweak the strength of schedule for each team.

The result made it more accurate but it didn't change the Raiders' position much. They started out at number 22 in strength of schedule based on last year's opponent records and they were 21 overall after instituting the power rankings.

Overall, it means the Raiders don't have a tough schedule. It is in the bottom third of the NFL. The strength of schedule ranking has the Broncos with the fourth toughest schedule in the NFL and both the Chargers (25) and Chiefs (28) have easier schedules than the Raiders per the final list.

So, while the Broncos now have Peyton Manning to lead their team, they will have a tougher schedule to face to make up for. That could balance things out a bit in the AFC West. While the Raiders will get to face two teams with very uncertain quarterback situations in the Dolphins and Jaguars.

In both cases, the Raiders and Broncos face those teams in the first six games of the season. So we will know pretty early on if it will make a lot of difference.