The Raiders have a tough slate ahead next season. Their 2017 opponents had a .564 winning percentage last year, with six games against 2016 playoff teams.
The strength of schedule ranks No. 4, only behind other AFC West rivals. They face the AFC East and NFC East, which also creates a difficult road slate for a team on the West Coast.
They travel to the Eastern time zone four times, with two more trips to the Central time zone. The Raiders also have an extra road game, with a home contest against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots given to Mexico City.
The Raiders must deal with that adversity. Head coach Jack Del Rio hopes NFL schedule makers don’t add more when slates are revealed later this spring.
“I’m anxious to see what the schedule looks like when it comes out,” Del Rio said. “We’re going to the East (several) times this year. It’s going to be a challenge.”
Del Rio has asked for consecutive East Coast games close enough where the Raiders could stay out there and avoid one cross country trip. They were given one in 2016, where the Raiders stayed in Florida while playing Jacksonville and Tampa Bay back-to-back. The Silver and Black won both games.
“We have some things we’ve requested thst would better enable us to withstand what’s coming,” Del Rio said. “Part of that is a recognition of us going to Mexico. Regardless of how you paint it, it’s a home game for us. From a competitive advantage standpoint, we aren’t gaining one. We’re losing one.
“If you continue to go, that’s one thing. If you continue to go and give up home games and playing nine on the road, that’s a competitive disadvantage. Hopefully, in recognition of that, hopefully we don’t have other things like a Thursday night game two time zones away.”
The Raiders were the only team asked to do that last year. They traveled to Kansas City for a Thursday game in Week 14 without a bye before it, and laid an egg in a crucial contest.
“We want to make sure we’re getting a fair shake,” Del Rio said. “Hopefully we will.”