HENDERSON, Nev. -- The Las Vegas Raiders' 2023 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.
The NFL schedule makers did Las Vegas very few favors, as the Raiders open the season with three of their first four games on the road as well as playing two of their last three games away from home.
Plus, the Raiders won’t enjoy their bye until Week 13 (Dec. 3), after playing 12 games.
Still, the rebuilt Raiders, with new quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, remain a national brand, as they will be on national television six times. They'll play twice each on Sunday night (home against both the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 3 and the-Aaron Rodgers-led New York Jets in Week 10) and Monday night (a Week 5 home game against the Green Bay Packers and at the Detroit Lions in Week 8), along with a Thursday night home game against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15 and a Christmas Day game at the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 11 days later.
Here's what's in store for the Raiders:
Sept. 10: at Denver
Sept. 17: at Buffalo
Sept. 24: vs. Pittsburgh (SNF)
Oct. 1: at Los Angeles Chargers
Oct. 9: vs. Green Bay (MNF)
Oct. 15: vs. New England
Oct. 22: at Chicago
Oct. 30: at Detroit (MNF)
Nov. 5: vs. New York Giants
Nov. 12: vs. New York Jets (SNF)
Nov. 19: at Miami
Nov. 26: vs. Kansas City
Dec. 3: BYE
Dec. 10: vs. Minnesota
Dec. 14: vs Los Angeles Chargers (TNF)
Dec. 25: at Kansas City (Christmas Day)
Dec. 31: at Indianapolis
Jan. 6/7: vs. Denver
Strength of schedule: .525 (10th toughest)
Garoppolo will be thrown into the fire soon enough, with roadies at Denver and Buffalo to begin his Raiders tenure. And the Raiders' retooled defense, with top draft pick Tyree Wilson joining Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones in rushing the quarterback, will be tested by new Broncos coach Sean Payton in the opener. Four straight AFC games to open the season, including a Week 4 game at the division rival Chargers, should be enough of a litmus test for a team opening a season with a quarterback other than Derek Carr for the first time since 2013.
If revenge is a dish best served cold, who is doing the serving and who is being served when the Raiders host the Patriots on Oct. 15? Because while Las Vegas owner Mark Davis scoffs at the notion that the Raiders are being transformed into Patriots West with so many former New England faces now calling Sin City home -- Davis says any GM or coach in a new job would bring people they are comfortable with to the new gig -- these teams have an uneasy alliance.
The Patriots essentially took over the Raiders' state-of-the-art facility during joint practices last training camp. And who can forget Patriot-turned-Raider wideout Jakobi Meyers' ill-fated backwards lateral to Jones (another former Patriot) for a stunning walk-off in Week 15 last season? Also, keep an eye on Darren Waller's return to Allegiant Stadium with the Giants on Nov. 5.
The Raiders, despite the tough start to the schedule and an unusually late bye week, will still be in the playoff hunt in December. Garoppolo being a better fit for the offense than Carr will provide dividends, so long as Garoppolo stays healthy, All-Pros Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs are their usual brilliant selves at receiver and running back, respectively, and Wilson, Crosby and Jones will be disruptive to opposing quarterbacks. And Las Vegas, with three of its final four games against the AFC West, two of those games coming at home, will control its own destiny.