Oakland Raiders schedule analysis

Breakdown: We already knew the Raiders would have, based upon opponents and last year’s records, the toughest strength of schedule in the NFL in 2014, including the toughest road opponents in the league. And still, the actual dates and times announced made it seem all the more daunting. A slow start, which we show is very possible, would have third-year coach Dennis Allen feeling the heat by the Raiders’ bye in Week 5. A pair of home games against the San Diego Chargers and the Carson Palmer-led Arizona Cardinals, with Jared Veldheer protecting his blind side, could act as a salve. Maybe. The middle of the schedule is also rife with pitfalls. Oakland faces the two teams that played in the most recent Super Bowl in consecutive weeks with a home game against the Denver Broncos and on the road at Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. The Raiders should have an identity by then. But will they still have something to play for by that point? Oakland finishing with two of three on the road at AFC West rivals Kansas City and Denver will let us know if the Raiders are mere spoilers. Again.

Complaint department: The schedule makers did the rebuilding Raiders no favors, immediately sending them to the New York Jets and the New England Patriots in Weeks 1 and 3 (Oakland has lost 13 straight games in the Eastern time zone) before the "home" game in London against the Miami Dolphins. Then in December, they play in cold-weather climates at both Kansas City and Denver. What’s that about the alpha and the omega? Then there’s this -- sure, the Raiders have been among the league’s dregs for the better part of a decade, but they have a certain national appeal. And yet, Oakland is shut out of "Monday Night Football" for the second time since 2007. The Raiders’ lone scheduled prime-time game is a Thursday night matchup at home against the Chiefs on Nov. 20. Like the man said, it’s not paranoia if they’re out to get you, or something like that.

Down in the dirt: The Raiders are the lone NFL team to still share a stadium with a major league baseball team. And if the Oakland A’s make a deep run in the playoffs, the Raiders could have as many as three games on the baseball infield dirt. If the A’s fail to qualify for the postseason, it should be only one -- newly acquired quarterback Matt Schaub’s reunion with the Houston Texans for Oakland’s home opener in Week 2. Speaking of renewing acquaintances, the preseason series between the Raiders and 49ers was suspended due to fan violence, but the Bay Area rivals meet for real on Dec. 7.

Strength of schedule: 1st, .578 | Vegas over/under: 5

Raiders Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, at NY Jets, 1 p.m.

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, Houston, 4:25 p.m.

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 21, at New England, 1 p.m.

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Miami, 1 p.m. (in London)

Week 5: BYE

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, San Diego, 4:05 p.m.

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Arizona, 4:25 p.m.

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at Cleveland, 4:25 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 2, at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, Denver, 4:05 p.m.

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, at San Diego, 4:05 p.m.

Week 12: Thursday, Nov. 20, Kansas City, 8:25 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Nov. 30, at St. Louis, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 7, San Francisco, 4:25 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 14, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, Buffalo, 4:25 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Denver, 4:25 p.m.