The Oakland Raiders will be sitting out this playoff run, but they can't really expect an easier schedule because of it. The Raiders will be drawing the AFC North and the NFC South next year, which means a host of ugly opponents regardless.
Three teams immediately jump out.
Pittsburgh Steelers. Probably one of the toughest matchups on the schedule, Oakland does have the personnel to try and go ugly with Pittsburgh. This figures to be a fragmented contest full of old-school football.
at Baltimore Ravens. As does this one.
New Orleans Saints. One saving grace of this schedule is that the Saints will have to go to Oakland rather than vice-versa, so the Raiders should consider this a winnable game; New Orleans tends to perform very well inside but struggles when faced with the elements.
Here's the full list of teams the Raiders must face next year.
Home: Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Tampa Bay
Away: Denver, Kansas City, San Diego, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Atlanta, Carolina
This is not an overwhelming schedule, particularly since the Raiders are slated in the AFC West. But it is a formidable one, and Oakland must plan accordingly.
To discuss the schedule with Raiders fans, head to Silver and Black Pride.