A closer look at why 2019 Raiders will play five straight away from home The Raiders got screwed. That’s the easiest conclusion to make following a brutal start to the 2019 slate following Wednesday evening’s NFL schedule release.
The sentiment’s rooted in some reality, considering the Raiders play their first two games at Oakland Coliseum and don’t return until Nov. 3.
They play five games away from home, with legit road games sandwiching a “home” game given away to play in the United Kingdom and an ensuing bye.
That’s what the Raiders are up against early next season. Here are some reasons why it played out this way, after talking to those with knowledge of a situation that has some Raiders and their fans a bit perturbed.
“On schedule release day, everybody’s reaction is emotional,” said Mike North, NFL vice president of broadcast planning, who is on the scheduling committee. “After you digest it and understand a little bit about the math and factors that may have contributed to it, you don’t feel that much better but at least you understand it.
“All 32 teams get equal consideration. There have been some times where (the Raiders) got a favorable schedule and things didn’t work out well for them, and others where they were upset about their schedule and had great success.”
Let’s start with this: The Raiders’ delay in securing an approved stadium lease for 2019 didn’t factor into the schedule or its release date, because the league started scheduling under the assumption the Silver and Black would be playing in Oakland.
The Raiders deciding to play at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara or University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., venues considered that already house NFL teams, would’ve created headaches.
The team staying put did not complicate things further, though sharing Oakland Coliseum with the Athletics creates a tighter framework that schedulers have with other teams.
The Athletics were on the road from Sept. 9-15, giving schedule makers a window to have the Raiders play a Monday night opener – West Coast teams are most always features in the second portion of a double header – and a Sunday afternoon game in Week 2.
The Raiders had to go on the road in Week 3 with the A’s playing at home, and were consequently shipped to Minnesota against the Vikings. The A’s are away in the NFL’s Week 4, but the Raiders requested a game farther east before heading to London to battle Chicago in Week 5. As a side note, international dates are general decided in advance of the regular schedule.
They ended up in Indianapolis in Week 4, one of just two away 2019 Raiders opponents from the Eastern Time Zone.
The bye always comes after a game in the U.K., so that off week was locked into Week 6.
There were no direct conflicts against coming home for Week 7 or Week 8 – the Raiders play at Green Bay and Houston, respectively – but the A’s made the playoffs last year and are good again, create a slim chance of a postseason conflict again this year.
The Raiders experienced one in 2013, where kickoff against the Chargers had to be postponed into the night due to an A’s playoff game. Odds of that happening again are slim, but schedulers had to be cognizant of that when fitting the Raiders slate together.
Coaches, players and fans can find further gripes with the slate, including how much tough competition is featured in a brutal start. Tampa Bay also plays five straight away from home. The Chargers play four straight away from Carson.
It’s no coincidence that all three have international home games. It is a complicating factor when trying to create a schedule, and it’s something the league will look to avoid in the future.