It's here, the moment we've all been waiting for.
The Oakland Raiders 2018 Regular Season Schedule has officially been released, and the Silver and Black will face their fair share of worthy adversaries next season.
The team is turning the page in 2018, as it begins a new chapter under the leadership of Head Coach Jon Gruden. We've known for quite some time who the Raiders would be facing next season, but now we know when.
Now that the full regular season schedule has been announced, here are five observations from the release.
The season opens at home… In primetime
This will be the 13th meeting between the Los Angeles Rams and the Raiders (Raiders own the head-to-head 8-5), but it will be the first time Gruden has gone toe-to-toe with his former pupil, Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. Last season, the rookie head coach helped the Rams finish with a record of 11-5 in his high-powered offense (the team hadn't finished above .500 since 2003).
In his second season at the helm, McVay will try to replicate his success from last year, and with the additions of cornerbacks Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, it's possible. The Raiders will play host to McVay and Co., at the Oakland Alameda-County Coliseum in a primetime showdown out of the gate. The two are slated to collide on Monday Night Football, Gruden's previous gig before returning to the sidelines.
Nothing like starting off the season under the bright lights, with all of the national media, and camera crews in attendance.
**The first division matchup
While the team will open the season against the Rams at home, four of the next five games will be on the road, even though the game against the Seattle Seahawks in London is considered a home game.
The Raiders will travel to the Mile High City first to face Von Miller and Co., in a Week 2 division matchup. It'll also be the first time the Silver and Black will face punter Marquette King after he was released by the team this offseason.
When the Denver Broncos and Raiders play each other, it always feels a little different compared to the Los Angeles Chargers – in my opinion – and starting the year off early with a rivalry matchup is exciting. Last year, the Raiders split the season series with the Broncos, each taking home a victory.
Following that game, the Raiders will go on a lengthy road stint facing the Dolphins in Miami, then returning for a home bout with the new-look Cleveland Browns, and hit the road once more to Los Angeles to face the Chargers, all before heading overseas to England.
After starting the season as road warriors, five of the Raiders final nine games will take place at home.
Carr vs. Garoppolo
Two rivals; two promising young quarterbacks.
Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo are two of the NFL's budding stars at the position, and they'll square off for the first time in Week 9 in Santa Clara, Calif., at Levi's Stadium. As if this matchup couldn't get hyped up anymore, the game will be broadcast on Thursday Night Football.
The Raiders' Bay Area rival finished the 2017 campaign on a high note, winning their last five games with then-recently acquired signal-caller "Jimmy G." As always, when these two teams meet on the gridiron, the Bay becomes divided, and while this matchup isn't technically a home game for the Silver and Black, I fully expect Raider Nation to flood Levi's Stadium.
The Steel City comes to The Town
There will be a lot of talent on the field when the Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers collide Week 14. From Amari Cooper to Antonio Brown, Marshawn Lynch to Le'Veon Bell, Derek Carr and Ben Roethlisberger, I expect a high-scoring affair. Once again, there will be a multitude of bright lights at the OACC, considering the game will be featured on Sunday Night Football – oh, boy.
The Steelers are routinely contenders year-after-year, and many NFL analysts have wondered whether a matchup between the AFC opponents in the postseason is around the corner. Whether their predictions of the Silver and Black versus the Black and Yellow come to fruition, whoever walks away the victor in the final quarter of the regular season could be headed beyond the regular season.
The Raiders conclude the 2018 season with back-to-back division games
With playoff implications possibly on the line, the Raiders will clash with the rival Broncos in Week 16 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Monday Night Football, and wrap up the regular season a week later in Kansas City against the Chiefs.
The division battles always mean a little more than the other games, and with back-to-back games against divisional foes in the final weeks of the season, you better believe tensions will be high. Depending on everyone's record, those final games could decide who either makes the playoffs, or misses the postseason. You also have to factor in the possibility of home-field advantage. A lot could be decided, and there should be no shortage of storylines for the season finale. [