Last season, the Raiders swept the division, but had trouble winning against teams outside of it and especially doing it on the road. The Raiders were 5-3 on the road last season with the three wins coming against division rivals. The Raiders were unable to walk away with a single road win against a non AFC West opponent all season last year.
This year, the Raiders have been road warriors. Through the first nine games of the season, the Raiders have a 3-1 road record, with the only loss coming in week two when the Raiders were forced to travel across country on a short week to face the resurgent Buffalo Bills. Even in that game, the Raiders played well and should have won.
Meanwhile, the Raiders are 2-3 while playing at the Oakland Coliseum, with two of those losses coming against inferior teams in the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos. This begs the question, why are the Raiders playing so well on the road, but struggle while at home?
Finding the answer to that question may be as simple as looking at the fact that the Raiders are one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Many of the Raiders key contributors are rather inexperienced in the league. The Raiders have a second year player and a rookie starting on their offensive line in Jared Veldheer and Stefen Wisniewski, a second year player and a rookie who are key options at wide receiver in Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore, two second year players starting in the defensive front seven in Lamarr Houston and Rolando McClain and a rookie who gets a large amount of playing time in the secondary in DeMarcus Van Dyke (that could turn into two players once Chimdi Chekwa gets his hamstring healthy).
With this much youth on your team, road games provide an opportunity for the team to spend an imense amount of time together. Traveling together, staying in the same place and eating meals together goes a long way towards helping this young team bond and build chemistry. It also may have helped keep the team focused. Getting away from the distractions that could arise while playing at home in Oakland and being able to focus on nothing but your team mates and the game at hand has likely helped this team galvanize on road trips and come away with solid performances and a very good road record.
This Sunday, the Raiders will look to continue their winning ways on the road as they take on a Vikings team that is not very good. As long as the Raiders do not look past the Vikings and star running back Adrian Peterson, they should improve their road record to an impressive 4-1 on the season.