After demonstrating signs of growth in Jon Gruden's second year back in charge, the Raiders are onto the 2020 NFL season in their brand new stadium in a brand new city. In 2019, the Raiders finished with an encouraging 7-9 record after winning only four games in Gruden's inaugural season. Then, knowing full well that they needed to make upgrades if they have any shot at all of catching the Chiefs in the AFC West, they went out and bolstered their roster in both free agency (linebackers Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton should shore up the defense while Marcus Mariota gives them another option at quarterback) and the draft (they used their two first-round picks on receiver Henry Ruggs and cornerback Damon Arnette).
There's no doubt that the Raiders still have holes that need addressing in the years to come -- this was never going to be a quick rebuild -- but they've made enough improvements to enter their first season in Las Vegas with hope. But to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016, the Raiders will need to navigate a difficult 17-week schedule. Below, now that the entire 2020 NFL schedule has finally been released, you'll find the Raiders' schedule broken down week by week, in addition to a list of their prime-time games, and a look at their strength of schedule.
The Pick Six Podcast gang fired up a new episode breaking down every eye-catching aspect of the NFL's schedule release. Give it a listen below, and be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform:
- Week 1, Sep. 13: at Panthers, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 2, Sep. 21: vs. Saints, 8:15 p.m. ET (Monday Night Football, ESPN)
- Week 3, Sep. 27: at Patriots, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 4, Oct. 4: vs. Bills, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 5, Oct. 11: at Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 6: BYE
- Week 7, Oct. 25: vs. Buccaneers, 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Night Football, NBC)
- Week 8, Nov. 1: at Browns, 1 p.m. ET (Fox)
- Week 9, Nov. 8: at Chargers, 4:05 p.m. ET (Fox)
- Week 10, Nov. 15: vs. Broncos, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 11, Nov. 22: vs. Chiefs, 8:20 p.m. ET (Sunday Night Football, NBC)
- Week 12, Nov. 29: at Falcons, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 13, Dec. 6: at Jets, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 14, Dec. 13: vs. Colts, 4:05 p.m. ET (CBS)
- Week 15, Dec. 17: vs. Chargers, 8:20 p.m. ET (Thursday Night Football, Fox/NFL/Amazon)
- Week 16, Dec. 26/27: vs. Dolphins, time and TV to be determined
- Week 17, Jan. 3: at Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET (CBS)
The Raiders will open their first season in Las Vegas on the road against the Panthers. They return home to play the first home game in Sin City in Week 2 on Monday Night Football against Drew Brees and the Saints.
As noted above in the schedule breakdown, the Raiders will be playing four prime-time games in 2020. They will have zero on the road and four at home. It is an interesting ratio considering most teams with multiple games in prime time are split. It is unlikely a coincidence that the league is introducing Las Vegas to a national audience four times next season.
The Raiders' toughest stretch will come early on. From Weeks 2-7, they'll be forced to face the Saints, Patriots (in New England), Bills, Chiefs (in Kansas City), and Buccaneers. At the very least, they'll get a breather during their Week 6 bye, but otherwise, the Raiders will be playing four playoffs teams in a six-week span and the only team out of those five that didn't make the playoffs is Tampa Bay, which added Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski this offseason. Yikes.
Strength of schedule
Earlier this offseason, our John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage from last season. Based on those calculations, the Raiders have the 12th-easiest schedule in 2020. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule, check out Breech's breakdown here.
However, when basing strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team's opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill, the Raiders go from having the 12th-easiest schedule to having the sixth-hardest schedule. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule using this methodology, check out our Jared Dubin's full breakdown here.