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Raiders Mailbag: What to expect this season after schedule reveal

Justin McGovney asks...

"What's more important for the Raiders: having a fast start or having a strong finish?"

In my opinion, both are extremely important, but my parents preached to me my whole life that it's not how you start, it's how you finish.

These last two seasons, the Raiders have proven they are capable of starting strong, beginning each season 6-3, but fell off the tracks the second half of the season to miss the playoffs. Quite frankly, this Raiders team is too talented to let that happen for a third straight season. The Silver and Black have done a great job of getting not only players who are needed but proven veteran players with playoff experience that know how to get it done.

Yannick Ngakoue, John Brown, Quinton Jefferson and Casey Hayward Jr. have all played in several playoff games, and Solomon Thomas and Rasul Douglas have both played in the Super Bowl. The Raiders' first-round pick Alex Leatherwood won two national championships at Alabama. In short, the Raiders made a visible effort to find leaders who have proven they won't fold down the stretch.

Winning a couple of games to start the season is exciting, but it won't get you to the playoffs. The Raiders seem to be aware of the that.

John Lewis asks...

"Tough opening games... How [do] you see the first four results?"

The Raiders aren't getting any tune-up games – they'll have to fight right out the gate.

The Silver and Black will start the season against the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers, two AFC North powerhouses that each made the playoffs last season. Following that, the Raiders will have to face two young, hungry teams in the Dolphins and the Chargers, both of which defeated the Raiders last season on their last possession.

The Raiders can't relax against anyone, obviously, and will need to start strong. They could definitely win all of these games and start their season 4-0, however I feel that if they can even split the first four, they could be in good shape moving forward. The biggest thing I'll be looking for? How competitive they play against these top-ranked teams.

Jason Monroe asks...

"Can you guys see the Raiders having more Thanksgiving games in the future? Or Christmas now that we're in Las Vegas?"

Thanksgiving games are always fun, especially after stuffing your face with food the whole day.

There will be a lot of intrigue in the Raiders' matchup with the Cowboys, and I expect the ratings to be high for this semi-primetime game, especially if both teams are playing well up to that point. The Raiders have played in seven Thanksgiving games overall, but this will be their first since 2013.

Allegiant Stadium would obviously be a great place for Christmas games in the future as well, given the climate and its status as a tourist destination. This season, the Raiders host AFC West rival Denver on December 26, the day after Christmas. Why freeze at home when you can go to the desert, enjoy some shows and see the Raiders in a beautiful state-of-the-art facility?

Easy decision for me.

Take a look at when and where the Las Vegas Raiders will face their 2021 opponents during the NFL's expanded 18-week season.

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