The Oakland Raiders already had one of the more difficult schedules lined up for 2017. Beating the NFL odds will be even harder now that they’re moving to Las Vegas.
Here’s the thing about the NFL releasing it’s 2017 regular-season schedule on Thursday: We already knew the opponents each of the 32 teams would be facing this year. It was just a question of when and where. And judging purely by win-loss percentages from 2016, the AFC West has it extra-tough this year. The four teams in question are at the top of the list.
1. Denver Broncos (147-107-2, .578)
2. Kansas City Chiefs (147-108-1, .576)
3. Los Angeles Chargers (145-110-1, .568)
4. Oakland Raiders (147-111-1, .564)
Of course, the AFC West has nobody to blame but themselves. They had three winning teams last year, including Kansas City and Oakland at 12-4. But the Raiders have given themselves an extra obstacle in their quest to beat the NFL odds: They’ve become the villains in their own hometown, announcing their move to Las Vegas in 2018. Or 2019. However long it takes. That means the home games you see in the following schedule are going to be more like road games for the Raiders.
It’s too bad, really. Oakland was one of last year’s feel-good stories, riding the arm of QB Derek Carr (28 TD, six INT) all the way to the playoffs – well, all the way to Week 16 when he broke his leg. Carr is ready to roll for 2017 by all accounts, participating fully in OTAs, and the Raiders have earned themselves five prime-time games on this year’s schedule. But make no mistake: Carr and his teammates won’t be getting much love from the fans in the Black Hole.
The closest comparison we have to this situation is the 1996 Houston Oilers. The year before, owner Bud Adams decided to move the team to Tennessee – for the 1998 campaign. They were going to play two lame-duck seasons in Houston, but 1996 went so badly, they cut a deal to move a year early. The Oilers went 2-6 SU and 4-4 ATS at home in front of hockey-sized crowds, compared to 6-2 SU and ATS on the road. Make your NFL picks for 2017 accordingly.
But hey, good news on that front: One of Oakland’s “home” games will be played in Mexico City instead. Oakland gets to play the reigning champion New England Patriots at Azteca Stadium in Week 11. One more reason to steer clear of the Raiders as +1200 second-tier contenders on the Super Bowl futures market.