The 2017 NFL schedule was released on Thursday night, and the Oakland Raiders have a tough road ahead of them in their quest to return to the NFL Playoffs next season. These are the 5 toughest games standing between the Raiders and a postseason berth:
5) at Miami Dolphins (Week 9)
There is a clear drop off between the top four teams on this list and the Dolphins, but Miami will be a tricky game for Oakland. Traveling to the east coast presents an unique test in itself, but the time difference won't be a factor with this being a Sunday night game. Miami was a playoff team last year that is expecting to take another step forward in Year 2 under Adam Gase.
4) at Denver Broncos (Week 4)
Denver does have their questions marks on offense, but their defense is still one of the best in the league and will be a test for Derek Carr. Even though they missed the playoffs last year, this early season game will give the winner a huge edge in the race to win the division.
3) at Kansas City Chiefs (Week 14)
Speaking of the AFC West race, this game could very well serve as the de facto title game. The Chiefs and Raiders finished first and second, respectively in the best division in football last year, and Oakland feels they would have won it if Carr didn't get here. It will be a testy battle of division rivals.
2) Dallas Cowboys (Week 15)
Even though it's at home, the fact that this is a Sunday night game against one of the best teams in the league will make this an extremely tough test for the Raiders. It will also serve as a tune-up right before the playoffs (assuming Oakland is in position to make it once again).
1) New England Patriots (Week 11)
There's not much that needs to be said about why this game is tops on the list. Oakland was thought to be the biggest threat to New England last year before Derek Carr's injury, and that's expected to be the case again. This game could be for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.