Oakland Raiders 2017 Season Simulation
According to CBS Sports, the Oakland Raiders have the fourth toughest schedule in the league this year, a figure based on the 2016 win percentages of Oakland’s 2017 opponents. The Raiders should win fewer games in the 2017 season but not because of their strength of schedule. It is because going 12-4 isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially in the AFC West.
Simulating each game of the 2017 season is the culmination of analyzing off-season moves (for both Oakland and their opponents), performances during the preseason, and injuries sustained to key players. It is not meant to be a declaration of things to come, but more of an educated guess of what all of the variables combined will produce.
The Oakland Raiders have been media darlings all off-season, and they certainly have the talent to warrant such attention. However, they play in one of the most competitive divisions in football and will have their hands full trying to live up to the hype.
Week 1 (9/10) @ Tennessee Titans
The Oakland Raiders will begin their 2017 campaign with a tough one in The Music City. A strong offseason and the return of one of the best O-lines in football make Marcus Mariota and the Titans, a dark horse favorite to make a run deep into the playoffs.
Last year the Raiders won a physical contest 17-10, but this year the Titans made all the right moves and should prove to be too much for a young Oakland secondary.
Score: Raiders lose 20-24
Week 2 (9/17) vs. New York Jets
The home opener will prove to be a cake walk for the 0-1 Raiders. After taking a loss in Tennessee, Oakland will have no trouble with the New York Jets.
The quarterback position is all anyone needs to look at in this contest. Derek Carr and the Raiders will make easy work of a leaderless Jets team that is still searching for an identity.
Score: Raiders win 30-6
Week 3 (9/24) @ Washington Redskins
Sitting at 1-1, the Raiders will meet Kirk Cousins and the Redskins in our nation’s capital for a week 3, prime time match-up.
The Raiders win it in the end by a field goal.
Score: Raiders win 27-24
Week 4 (10/01) @ Denver Broncos
After splitting the 2016 season with one win a piece, the Raiders and Broncos look to break the tie in week 4. The high scoring Raider offense matches well against the stingy Broncos defense, but it is each team’s “other half” that determines the outcome of this game.
Denver’s offense is led by Trevor Siemian, a talented QB, but no match for Khalil Mack and the Raiders. The developing Siemian makes a few bad reads and throws a pair of picks, which is enough to tip the scales in the Raiders favor.
Derek Carr leads an inspired Raider offense to victory, throwing two touchdowns in the process.
Score: Raiders win 24-10
Week 5 (10/08) vs. Baltimore Ravens
Back in the friendly confines of The Coliseum, the Raiders will face a much improved Baltimore Ravens squad.
The Ravens have been building for the short term and their recent signings are proof of this. The addition of Jeremy Maclin and Danny Woodhead will give Joe Flacco more weapons to work with, but it will prove to be too little in an effort to beat the Raiders at home.
The Ravens defense will hold the Oakland running backs to low yardage totals but will give way at the goal-line. Two rushing touchdowns from inside the five late in the game seals the win for the Silver and Black.
Score: Raiders win 27-17
Week 6 (10/15) vs. Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have been making slow and steady progress in their effort to get back to the top of the AFC West, unfortunately, that time has cost Philip Rivers many years of playing for a subpar team.
Injuries have plagued this team over the past few seasons, but even a healthy Chargers team is still years away from competing with the 2017 Oakland Raiders.
Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree put on a show for Raider Nation. Raiders take an easy one at home and move their win streak to five.
Score: Raiders win 27-10
Week 7 (10/19) vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Aside from the Titans game in week 1, this will be the biggest challenge for the Raiders thus far.
The 2016 version of the Chiefs ranked 20th and 24th, in the offensive and defensive categories, respectively. And despite these mediocre rankings in the categories, they managed to win the most competitive division in football, the AFC West.
With a combination of speed and power on the offensive side of the ball, Alex Smith and the Chiefs will attack the young and inexperienced Oakland secondary without remorse.
The win streak ends at five as the Raiders drop a division game at home.
Score: Raiders lose 17-24
Week 8 (10/29) @ Buffalo Bills
After suffering a tough loss at home to their bitter rivals, the Raiders pack their game and head east to Buffalo.
With all the movement in Buffalo this offseason, this game looks like a cake walk on paper. But the Bills have proven time and time again that they aren’t a team to take lightly.
Tyrod Taylor isn’t a great QB, but his skill set fits with what the Bills do on offense. He and LeSean McCoy will keep the Raider front seven honest, while dink and dunk passes to Jordan Matthews and Charles Clay move the ball through Oakland’s porous secondary.
This one ends with a game winning drive and a Sebastian Janikowski field goal.
Score: Raiders win 20-17
Week 9 (11/05) @ Miami Dolphins
Jay Cutler and the Miami Dolphins are a playoff caliber team and should be given the respect they deserve. Which is why Head Coach, Jack Del Rio, keeps the Raiders on the east coast to prepare for their week nine matchup.
Marshawn Lynch has a career day, scoring twice on the ground and once through the air, he proves to be the difference in this one.
Score: Raiders win 30-24
Week 10: BYE
Week 11 (11/19) vs. New England Patriots
Coming out of the bye week the Raiders will face their toughest opponent of the season, the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.
This game will be played south of the border and will be Oakland’s second trip down to Mexico in as many years. In what could be a preview of this year’s AFC Championship game, Tom Brady, Brandin Cooks, and Rob Gronkowski have their way with the Raiders. The Silver and Black will head home with their third loss of the season.
Score: Raiders lose 27-10
Week 12 (11/26) vs. Denver Broncos
Much like the week 4 matchup, this comes down to QB play. At this point in the season, Trevor Siemian has worked out the kinks, and that makes this game much more competitive than the one earlier this year.
Even with better QB play, the Broncos are still just short of where they need to be. The Raiders force the Broncos to run the ball, eliminating the threat of Siemian and the Denver receivers, and masking their weak secondary.
Score: Raiders win 23-17
Week 13 (12/03) vs. New York Giants
Coming off a big division win, the Raiders will host the New York Giants in week 13. This game will highlight Oakland’s Achilles heel and confirm that the way to beat the Raiders is through the air.
Score: Raiders lose 28-14
Week 14 (12/10) @ Kansas City Chiefs
Having taken a beat down at home in week 7, the Raiders prepare for the Chiefs air attack in week 14. The defense, led by Khalil Mack, pressures new starting QB, Patrick Mahomes, making it hard for the rookie to get a rhythm established.
Derek Carr and the Raider Offense, having been out played during the last meeting, bring their “A” game. The Raiders avoid the sweep and pull off the win at Arrow Head.
Score: Raiders win 20-13
Week 15 (12/17) vs. Dallas Cowboys
The match-up everyone has been waiting for, a possible Super Bowl preview between the NFC and AFC’s best.
This one will be built up all week, but unfortunately, it will not deliver. Oakland’s receivers and tight ends prove to be too much for Dallas’ corners and safeties. The lack of talent in the defensive backfield makes this game one sided.
The Dallas offense scores, but can’t keep pace with the Raiders. The difference in this game is the poor play of the Dallas defense, more so than the play of the Raider Offense.
Score: Raiders win 34-27
Week 16 (12/25) @ Philadelphia Eagles
The Raiders head to Philly riding a two game win streak. With the team firing on all cylinders at this point in the season, there is very little that can slow them down.
This game plays out like a Mike Tyson boxing match. Each team will showcase their physical run game in an attempt to keep control of the clock.
Marshawn Lynch and LeGarrette Blount put on a vulgar display of power, leaving each team’s air attack more of a side dish than a main course.
In the end, Lynch out plays his counterpart from Philly, leading the Raiders to a physical win against a talented team.
Score: Raiders win 21-20
Week 17 (12/31) @ Los Angeles Chargers
Looking to close out the regular season on a high note, the Raiders will travel to Los Angeles to square off against their division rivals once more.
The Chargers, having lost the first game in Oakland in week 6, will look to split the series in front of a sellout crowd. And in a stadium filled with Raider fans, they will do just that.
Philip Rivers has a field day with Raiders struggling secondary, tossing two touchdown passes and adding one on the ground.
Derek Carr and the rest of the offense do what they can to keep pace, but in the end, it is too little, too late.
Score: Raiders lose 24-17