2018 Oakland Raiders Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
If you looked really closely at the Oakland Raiders' 2016 season when they won 12 games, you could see that some regression was likely coming in 2017. That's because the Raiders performed way above the statistical mean in close games - i.e. those decided by seven points or fewer. At some point, luck is going to turn against you.
It did in 2017 for Oakland.
Derek Carr clearly wasn't the same quarterback last year, Amari Cooper wasn't close to the same receiver, and the defense sucked outside of Khalil Mack. The Raiders slipped to 6-10 - this time going 4-3 in games decided by a TD or less compared to 8-1 the year before.
The silver lining of that regression was a potential upgrade at head coach as Jack Del Rio was canned by owner Mark Davis - even though Del Rio had landed a four-year extension following that 2016 season. Why does ownership feel the need to do that when guys have contracts? Del Rio was replaced by Jon Gruden, who of course first made a name for himself as "Chucky" with the Raiders from 1998-2001. He was "traded" to Tampa Bay following that '01 campaign and led the Bucs immediately to a Super Bowl win, coming against his former Raiders team. Including his seven seasons with the Buccaneers, Gruden has an overall record of 95-81 as a head coach, with five playoff appearances (5-4 record in playoffs).
Do I think Gruden is a bit overrated? No doubt, and the Bucs never won another playoff game under him. But, Gruden brings personality and will help sell tickets and hope, both for the next two lame-duck years in Oakland and for when the team builds a new fan base in Las Vegas. That's why he got a staggering 10-year, $100 million deal. Some think Gruden was away from the league too long from a coaching standpoint, but Pete Carroll was gone just as long and has done spectacular in his return with Seattle. Of course, Carroll was also coaching all that time away from the NFL with USC. Gruden was in the TV booth.
The Raiders were 2-6 on the road last season, 2-5-1 against the spread and 2-6 "over/under." Oakland travels to just one playoff team from 2017 (doesn't get any easier than that): Kansas City in Week 17. Needless to say, the home slate is tougher. I project a 3-5 road mark. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 16 at Broncos (-1): Short week already as Oakland hosts the Rams in the late game of the Week 1 Monday night doubleheader. At least no snow in Denver this time of year (presumably). Carr broke three bones in his back in Oakland's 16-10 loss in Denver in Week 4 last year. That was essentially the beginning of the end of the season already. Key trend: Raiders 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Sept. 23 at Dolphins (-1.5): As far as a road trip as the Raiders could take other than London, and, yep, a 10 a.m. Pacific time start. For what it's worth, the team did in win in South Florida last year, 27-24, before the bye week. Carr threw for 300 yards and a touchdown. Not often you win turning it over two times and with 10 penalties for 105 yards as Oakland did. Key trend: Raiders 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 at Miami.
Oct. 7 at Chargers (-5): Probably again be more Raiders fans at the Chargers' soccer stadium because L.A. is still mostly a Raiders town, although the Rams are closing that gap quickly. Oakland closed last season and the Del Rio era with a 30-10 loss at the Chargers, who still had a shot at the playoffs on the final Sunday. Del Rio was fired about five minutes after the game ended. Key trend: Raiders 6-4 ATS in past 10 as dog at Chargers.
Nov. 1 at 49ers (-4): Thursday night Battle of the Bay - the last time these two will do that in the regular season before Oakland's move to Vegas. Last year, no one in their right mind would have taken Jimmy Garoppolo over Carr. Now, I think no one would take Carr. Technically, Oakland is closer to San Francisco than Santa Clara, the home of the 49ers, is. Key trend: Raiders 5-5 ATS in past 10 at NFC West foes.
Nov. 18 at Cardinals (+1): Oakland's only indoor game. Probably be rookie Josh Rosen under center by this point in the season for the Cardinals. Oakland leads all-time series 5-4 but lost last one at home in 2014, 24-13. Key trend: Raiders 4-5-1 ATS in past 10 as road favorite.
Nov. 25 at Ravens (-5): First of three likely cold-weather road games for Oakland. This is the Michael Crabtree game as the Raiders released him and the receiver signed a three-year deal with Baltimore. Crabtree was good in Oakland, but the team was tired of his attitude. Oakland is 3-7 in this series, losing last year at home 30-17 in Week 5 when Carr was out injured. Key trend: Raiders 4-6 ATS in past 10 at AFC North foes.
Dec. 16 at Bengals (+1.5): Oakland's new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther used to hold that role in Cincinnati. The Raiders have lost three of the past four in the series, most recently a home blowout defeat in 2015. Key trend: Raiders have failed to cover past five in Cincinnati.
Dec. 30 at Chiefs (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines. The Raiders are the only team in the NFL that waits until Week 17 to face a 2017 playoff team on the road. Carr and the Raiders have not fared well at Arrowhead Stadium in recent years. Last year, it was a 26-15 loss in Week 14 - which started Oakland on its season-ending four-game skid. Key trend: Raiders have covered one of past five at Chiefs.
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