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Raiders 2019 schedule: Examining toughest and easiest three-game stretches

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NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Oakland Raiders Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Raiders’ 2019 schedule is one of the strangest and most difficult NFL schedules I’ve ever seen. It takes the Raiders all around the world and gives them well over 30,000 miles of travel in the year. The Raiders will get their new digs in the desert sooner than later, but they will pay the price this year it seems,

Raider fans: Did you get a new stadium?

Raiders: Yes.

Raider fans: What did it cost?

Raiders: Everything.

To compound matters, this schedule is set up a lot like a baseball schedule with long stretches of home and away games. It’s just bizarre. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the hardest and the easiest three-game stretches in this year’s Raiders slate.

HARDEST: Week 4 @Colts, Week 5 vs. Bears in London, Week 7 @Packers

You’d have to go back a long way in the annals of the NFL to find a more ridiculous three-game set as this. The Bears game is technically a home game, but that’s like saying a banana is technically a berry. Sure, but nobody treats it that way.

The Colts should once again be one of the best teams in the AFC and slowing down Andrew Luck is a tall task for even the best defenses, which the Raiders do not possess. Oakland’s secondary is in much better shape now than it was last year due to free agency, but that won’t matter if they can’t rush the passer well enough to disrupt Luck’s rhythm.

London hosts the Raiders seemingly every year, and they do so poorly there they’d be hard-pressed to beat the Cal Bears, let alone the Chicago Bears with a motivated Khalil Mack. The Bears should be double digit favorites in this one and Oakland will be counting on Trent Brown to keep Derek Carr alive.

Green Bay still has Aaron Rodgers and are at home, which usually is enough to win. The Raiders will be coming off a bye which gives them an advantage, but this game really depends on how well Rodgers gels with new head coach Matt LaFleur. I’m not optimistic.

Oh, and after that, they play at the Texans in Week 8.

EASIEST: Week 9 vs, Lions, Week 10 vs. Chargers, Week 11 vs. Bengals

It seems kinda weird to include a solid playoff team like the Chargers in the “Easiest” three-game stretch, but that’s what the Raiders are faced with. All of these games are in Oakland, which will be a huge help. Five of the Raiders’ eight games in the second half of the season are at home; there’s a trip to New York, a trip to KC and a trip to Denver and LA to close out the year. But these three games are absolutely vital for Oakland and they almost have to run the table if they want to be a .500 team or even have dreams of challenging for a playoff berth.

The Raiders host the Lions in their first game in Oakland after a nearly two-month road trip. Detroit doesn’t have a lot going for them with little offensive firepower, no running game, no pass rush and a weak secondary outside of All-World corner Darius Slay. What they do have is a solid defensive interior so the Raiders need to attack the edges with power runs and screens.

Oakland hosts Los Angeles in Week 10, and it will be the final prime-time game played in the Coliseum The crowd will give it their all and surely the Raiders will too, because they must. This will be a very difficult game to win, even at home, but if the Raiders do win it, it would be a sign that they are legit.

Week 11 sees the Raiders host the Bengals, who just hired a coach after approximately 400 years of being coached by the Black Jeff Fisher, Marvin Lewis. Cincinnati looks average to solid on paper, but they have a knack for being worse than they have any right to be. Oakland really needs to take this one before they head to visit the Jets in another winnable game in Week 12.

So there you have it. This is going to be a really wacky year. These three-game stretches will be make or break for Oakland. If they can steal a game they should lose and win the games they should win, they can overcome the pitfalls of the schedule. If they drop a few games they shouldn’t, they could be drafting in the top five again and then the smoke surrounding Derek Carr’s job security could turn into a very real inferno because of the many blue-chip QB prospects who will be available then. Of course, if Carr returns to his elite 2016 form, all those questions will become moot and the Raiders’ difficult schedule won’t matter in the least.