The Oakland Raiders went 3-13 last season, extending the string of sub-.500 seasons to three straight and 10 in the last 12 years. However, the future looks brighter in Oakland thanks to the solid play of rookie quarterback Derek Carr and the addition of new head coach Jack Del Rio during the offseason.
The Raiders will also welcome the additions of defensive tackle Dan Williams, safety Nate Allen and linebacker Curtis Lofton to a defense that ranked last in the league with 28.3 points allowed per game. Carr also has new weapons, including running back Trent Richardson and veteran receiver Michael Crabtree.
But based off their newly released schedule, this latest incarnation of the Raiders will be tested early and often throughout the 2015 NFL season, and the chances of making the postseason seem slim for now.
Next season, the Raiders will face both the AFC and NFC North, which were two of the toughest divisions in the league last season that saw five total teams make the postseason. As a result Oakland is tied with the AFC West rival Kansas City Chiefs for the seventh-hardest schedule in the league next year, with opponents amassing a 139-116-1 record, or .545 winning percentage, in 2014.
Oakland kicks off the first two games of the regular season at home, but will start the 2015 campaign against a Cincinnati Bengals squad that went 10-5-1 to make the playoffs and owned the league’s No. 12-ranked defense while averaging 22.8 points per game last year.
Next up are the Baltimore Ravens, another loaded AFC North squad that nearly upended eventual Super Bowl champion New England in the divisional round last season.
The Raiders got a bit of a break for their first road game of the season. They’ll head to Cleveland to tackle a Browns squad that went a respectable 7-9 in 2014 but flamed out late in the year and still have significant questions about the offense and who will start at quarterback.
After a trip to face the rebuilding Chicago Bears, Oakland begins division play against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Last season the Broncos averaged 44 points in their two victories over the Raiders, and Oakland has dropped seven straight to Denver with 2011’s season opener its last victory.
Depending on how the first five games of the season play out, an early bye week in Week 6 could be good or bad for Oakland. Either the Raiders get out to a hot start against quality teams and prepare for a major push to snap their 13-year postseason drought, or they make adjustments to try and pick up several wins in an equally loaded backend of the schedule.
The Raiders will charge out of the bye week with a short road trip to San Diego to square off with Philip Rivers and the Chargers. San Diego’s won the last three meetings between the two clubs, and Rivers has torched the Raiders for 4,222 yards, a 62.2 completion percentage, 27 touchdowns and a 14-4 record over his career.
From there Oakland welcomes a talented defensive stalwart in the New York Jets, but the game is very winnable given the Jets glaring lack of offensive weapons and a proven franchise quarterback.
The key road stretch of the season runs from Week 9 to 12, with Oakland staring down the Pittsburgh Steelers, Detroit Lions and Tennessee Titans.
In the final five weeks, Oakland has four division games booked, with the only exception being Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers has faced the Raiders once and walked away with a 46-16 victory back in 2011, though that was at home and he’ll have to adjust to fans at O.co Coliseum this go-round.
Check out the full 2015 schedule below.
Week 1: Sun, Sept. 13 vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Week 2: Sun, Sept. 20 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Week 3: Sun, Sept. 27 at Cleveland Browns
Week 4: Sun, Oct. 4, at Chicago Bears
Week 5: Sun, Oct. 25 vs. Denver Broncos
Week 6: Bye
Week 7: Sun, Oct. 25 at San Diego Chargers
Week 8: Sun, Nov. 1 vs. New York Jets
Week 9: Sun, Nov. 8 at Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 10: Sun, Nov 15 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Week 11: Sun, Nov. 22 at Detroit Lions
Week 12: Sun, Nov. 29 at Tennessee Titans
Week 13: Sun, Dec. 16 vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Week 14: Sun, Dec. 13 at Denver Broncos
Week 15: Sun, Dec. 20 vs. Green Bay Packers
Week 16: Thurs, Dec. 24 vs. San Diego Chargers
Week 17: Sun, Jan. 3 at Kansas City Chiefs