The Raiders have failed to finish above .500 in the previous three seasons, tied to the return of coach Jon Gruden. For their second season in Las Vegas, they hope to stay on an upward tracjectory after going from 4-12 to 7-9 to 8-8.
Gruden and GM Mike Mayock are under pressure to deliver results in 2021 and make the Raiders at least true wild-card contenders. The team being settled into its new city will help, as will having hungry new fans finally attending games at Allegiant Stadium.
The Raiders didn’t have the greatest offseason, but they still hope to be improved. Here is a complete breakdown of the Raiders’ 2021 schedule, including dates, start times and analysis.
Las Vegas Raiders schedule 2021
The Raiders open the 2021 season in primetime — on Monday night, Sept. 13, against the Ravens. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN/ABC. It’s a home opening for the fans, as attendance wasn’t allowed last season because of COVID-19 during the inaugural season for Allegiant Stadium.
The rest of the Raiders’ schedule will be announced at 8 p.m. ET tonight. These are the teams that they are scheduled to play during the 2021 NFL season.
HOME: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Football Team
AWAY: Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Raiders don’t have it easy in their division, with two games each against the mighty Chiefs and surging Chargers. They also need to be wary of the last-place Broncos jumping them in the standings.
Drawing the AFC North is balanced a little by also playing all of the NFC East. The Dolphins and Colts are the additional second-place matchups in the AFC, while Khalil Mack and the Bears are the opponent for the 17th game.
Raiders strength of schedule
The Raiders have the 8th toughest schedule when considering the combined 2020 record and winning percentage of their 2021 opponents (142-128-2, .526).
Part of that is getting the 14-2 Chiefs twice, but the Raiders also face four more returning AFC playoff teams in the Steelers, Ravens, Browns and Colts. The Bears and Washington are the additional playoff pair from the NFC.
Toughest tests: The Raiders host the Ravens, Bears, Dolphins and Washington on top of the Chiefs and Chargers. With Allegiant Stadium having been closed to fans last season in the Raiders’ inaugural year in Las Vegas, it’s uncertain what kind of home-field advantage they have, especially with Vegas being an attractive destination for away fans.
When the Raiders go on the road, it’s more daunting. The Browns, Cowboys, Colts and Steelers are four of their seven trips.
Biggest breaks: The Raiders need to take advantage of at least three-fourths of the NFC East. They also must take care of the Bengals at home and try to sweep the Broncos, because there’s nothing else favorable to see here.
Bottom line: Unfortunately, the Raiders, after hitting their offensive ceiling with Derek Carr and still carrying over multiple big defensive issues, don’t look like they will suddenly jump from .500 into playoff-related relevance. The Chiefs aren’t going anywhere and the Chargers and the NFC East are far from pushovers anymore.
The Raiders will do their best to win more than they lose with their nine home games, but the road does them few favors with team quality and geography.
Record prediction: 6-11