It is now July and the NFL regular season starts in 74 days for the Las Vegas Raiders when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football on Sept. 13.
So with the season fast approaching, let’s look at the Raiders’ most important games of the 17-game schedule. We are terming these games as “pivot points” as they are games we deem important in terms of the opponent and the part of the season in which they are played.
Oct. 4 at Los Angeles Chargers:
This ends a tough first four-game stretch — and on a Monday night, no less. The first quarter of the season is crucial for Las Vegas because the end of the schedule is so rugged. Getting off to a fast start is paramount and it’s a sneaky tough start to the season.
After hosting the Ravens, the Raiders go to the Pittsburgh Steelers, then host the improving Miami Dolphins before going to play the Chargers. Therefore in their first AFC West matchup, the Raiders need to end the first quarter of the season on a positive note. It won’t be easy, of course, because the Chargers played the Raiders super tough last season and second-year quarterback Justin Herbert should only get better.
Nov. 14 against visiting Kansas City Chiefs:
The Raiders don’t play the Chiefs until their ninth game of the season. They battled the Chiefs hard in 2020, even winning at Arrowhead Stadium for the first time in eight years. This is a Sunday night game and the Raiders can show the country they can hang with the Chiefs in the AFC West race for the rest of the season.
Nov. 25 at Dallas Cowboys:
This is not a conference game, but it’s a big one for the Raiders because it’s the final game before the tough December schedule kicks in. Plus, it’s a Thanksgiving Day game in “Big D” on a short week. If the Raiders can beat the Cowboys, they can go into December on 10 days rest and feeling strong about the stretch run.
Dec. 19 at Cleveland Browns:
We should know if the Raiders are serious AFC playoff contenders by this game, which is their 15th of the season. The Raiders and Browns may be jockeying for wild-card placement. So, this game, likely to be played in dreadful weather, is a huge one for the Raiders as they head into the final three games of the season.