Ah the Raiders. I lived nowhere near California as a kid, but it was hard not to sort of like the Silver & Black just because they were so menacing and cool. Now? I still live nowhere near California, and all I feel is pity. Last season was Oakland's 12th straight without a winning record -- all coming after losing Super Bowl XXXVII to Tampa Bay and former Oakland head coach Jon Gruden.
You actually heard some talk that the Raiders were trying to lure Gruden back this season after firing Coach Dennis Allen during the 2014 campaign. Smartly, Gruden stayed in the TV booth. The Raiders instead hired Jaguars defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Meh.
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Will this be the final season for the Raiders in Oakland? I think it will be. While I'm not sure whether the Rams or Chargers will join the team in Los Angeles in 2016, it looks all but a done deal that Oakland will be playing there. Oh, and the NBA's Warriors are leaving Oakland in a few years for San Francisco. So enjoy the A's, Oakland residents, although if that team ever gets its way it will be playing in San Jose.
Oakland was 3-5 at home last season, 4-4 against the spread and 6-2 "over/under." The Raiders' 2015 home schedule ranks as the second-toughest in the NFL (behind Bay area neighbor 49ers) with an opponents' combined 2014 winning percentage of .574.
Here's the schedule with very early (opponent) odds.
Sept. 13 -- Bengals (-3.5): Oakland hasn't won its overall season opener since 2011 in Denver. The Raiders did beat Jacksonville in their home opener last year. I'm sure there will be some ceremony planned here for the likely last home opener at O.co Coliseum (a dump). Maybe Cincinnati will be looking ahead to its Week 2 home opener. It's the first Cincy visit in six years and first overall meeting in three. Key trend: Raiders 5-4-1 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC North.
Sept. 20 -- Ravens (-5): This absolutely screams potential letdown game for Baltimore if it were to go to Denver in Week 1 and upset the Broncos. Another guy the Raiders were hoping to have a chance to hire as head coach this offseason? Ravens coach John Harbaugh's brother Jim. But he was always going to Michigan. Raiders haven't beaten Ravens since 2003 (only win all-time). Key trend: Raiders 5-5 ATS in past 10 at home as a dog of at least 5 points.
Oct. 11 -- Broncos (-6.5): Oakland is off trips to Cleveland and then Chicago and its bye is after this. Denver is off a Week 4 home game vs. Minnesota. The Broncos crushed the host Raiders 41-17 in Week 10 last season, Oakland's 15th straight loss overall. Raiders QB Derek Carr, whom I think is going to be a good player, was 30-for-47 for just 192 yards (on 47 attempts!?) with two touchdowns and two picks. Raiders rushed for only 30 yards. Key trend: Raiders 4-6 ATS in past 10 before a bye (any location).
Nov. 1 -- Jets (pick'em): Oakland is off a trip to San Diego in Week 7, while New York is at New England the previous Sunday. This could well be the only time all season the Raiders are favored, and I'm going to assume they are in my key trend. Clubs met in New Jersey in Week 1 last season, and the Raiders lost 19-14. In his NFL debut, Carr threw a 30-yard score to James Jones with 1:21 left, but an onside kick was recovered by the Jets. The Raiders finished with a measly 158 total yards. Key trend: Raiders 3-7 ATS in past 10 at home as a favorite.
Nov. 15 -- Vikings (-1.5): Oakland is in Pittsburgh in Week 9, while Minnesota is home to St. Louis. Nice matchup of second-year quarterbacks in the Vikings' Teddy Bridgewater and Raiders' Carr. They look like the two best out of that class so far. First Minnesota visit in 12 years. Key trend: Raiders 4-6 ATS in past 10 as a home dog of 2.5 points or fewer.
Dec. 6 -- Chiefs (-3.5): Oakland is off trips to Detroit and then Nashville, while Kansas City is home to Buffalo in Week 12. After starting last season 0-10, the Raiders got that first win in Week 12 on a Thursday night vs. the visiting Chiefs, 24-20. It had been 368 days since Oakland last won (16-game skid overall). Carr threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jones with 1:42 remaining for the winning score. Latavius Murray ran for two touchdowns and 112 yards on just four carries before leaving the game with a concussion. He had a 90-yard TD run, the longest by a Raider since Bo Jackson's 92-yarder vs. the Bengals in 1989. Key trend: Raiders 3-7 ATS in past 10 at home in series.
Dec. 20 -- Packers (-7): Oakland is in Denver in Week 14, while Green Bay is home to Dallas, so this could be a major trap for the Pack. I'll tell you right now I'm taking the points here barring some major injury (Carr). Raiders haven't beaten Green Bay since 1987 when they were in L.A. Key trend: Raiders 4-6 ATS in past 10 at home vs. NFC.
Dec. 24 -- Chargers (-3.5): This is a Thursday night game, almost surely the Oakland finale, and perhaps fittingly against the Raiders' potential co-tenant in a stadium in Carson, Calif. (although the teams would have to play somewhere temporary a few years). San Diego is off a home game vs. Miami in Week 15. Raiders lost in Week 5 at home to Bolts last season, 31-28. Carr had perhaps his best game of the season, completing 18-for-34 for 282 yards, four touchdowns and one pick. Andre Holmes had four catches for 121 yards and two scores. Key trend: Raiders 4-6 ATS in past 10 at home as dog in this series.
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