The Las Vegas Raiders’ 2023 regular-season schedule was revealed Thursday.
It’s an interesting and unique road. Let’s look at some key aspects of the schedule and what it means:
Hello, Sean Payton:
There are going to be a lot of eyes on the Raiders in Week 1, but they are not necessarily going to be focusing on the Silver and Black. it will be Sean Payton’s debut as the Denver Broncos coach and the home crowd should be pretty fired up. The Raiders will be the first team to see if Payton has fixed quarterback Russell Wilson.
Early road work:
The Raiders open the season with back-to-back roadies as they visit the Buffalo Bills in Week 2. So, they will be facing two teams in their home openers, which will be challenging. After a home date against Pittsburgh in Week 3, the Raiders hit the road again in Week 4 at the Los Angeles Chargers.
Try to start 3-2:
The Raiders have a tough start to the season with the Broncos, Bills, Steelers, Chargers and Packers. That’s not ideal for a team that started 0-3 last season on the way to a 6-11 finish. If the Raiders can get out of this stretch at 3-2, they could be in good shape.
Weather not a big issue:
Playing at Buffalo in the middle of September is a lot better than in December. Overall, the Raiders don’t have many weather challenges facing them other than playing on Christmas in Kansas City. That could be a doozy. Otherwise, it’s not awful. Las Vegas plays at Chicago in October and plays at Miami in November when it shouldn’t be overly humid. Denver in September is nice as well.
Showing off the Death Star:
It’s pretty wild to think that a 6-11 team is playing in five prime-time games and the Raiders have six standalone games counting the Christmas day game in Kansas City, There a couple of reasons why they have so many standalone games. The first is the opponents, the TV folks like the idea of a Monday night game with Davante Adams playing his former team, the Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers and the Jets are a big sell and the Raiders have heated rivalries with the Chiefs and the Steelers. Another reason why the Raiders are in prime time five times is Allegiant Stadium. Four of the Raiders’ five prime timers will be played in Las Vegas. The league wants to showcase the Death Star in anticipation of it hosting the Super Bowl in February.
Big home stretch:
The flip side of the Raiders’ early road stretch is they have a big stretch at home in November and December. The Raiders, who have nine home games this season, play a stretch of five of six games at home. With their bye week nestled in there, the Raiders will go on a plane just once in nearly two months.
The Raiders will need the home rest because they are going to be worn out by the time the bye comes around. The Raiders’ bye is Week 13, which is the second latest in the NFL. They play their Thursday night game in Week 15, so there won’t be a lot of early-season rest. But the Raiders could be in good shape for the stretch run.
AFC West opportunity:
Four of the Raiders’ final six games are against division foes, including two games against the Super Bowl champion Chiefs. They can get a lot of work done.
The Raiders have five games that start at 10 a.m. Pacific time. They have not been good in that time slot in recent years. Las Vegas went 0-3 in 10 a.m. kickoffs in 2022. They need to improve in this area with so many early starts.
It’s a unique slate for sure. But it’s not awful. There is no need to get worked up about a schedule layout. It is what it is. Go play the season.