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Raiders face one of NFL’s hardest schedules based on win totals

For the third straight year, the Raiders have one of the NFL’s toughest schedules.

Based on the NFL’s strength of schedule rankings, determined by opponents’ win percentage from last season, the Raiders have the seventh-hardest slate (.528, 152-136-1).

But sportsbooks provide a better barometer.

Based on their opponents’ season win totals, which incorporate offseason moves, the Raiders have the third-toughest schedule.

“That’s a much better indicator than based on last year’s wins,” Westgate SuperBook NFL oddsmaker Ed Salmons said. “That’s kind of silly.”

The Raiders’ 17 foes are projected to have 150.5 wins for an average of 8.8 wins per game. They will play eight games against opponents with double-digit win totals: six in the stacked AFC West vs. the Kansas City Chiefs (10.5), Los Angeles Chargers (10) and Denver Broncos (10), and one each against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams (10.5) and San Francisco 49ers (10).

“There are no easy games in the division,” Salmons said. “That’s the problem.”

The AFC West has the NFL’s highest combined win total at 39. The AFC North is next at 36, and the NFC West has 35.5.

The good news for Raiders fans is that they’ve exceeded expectations the past two seasons against difficult slates, eclipsing their win total of 7½ in 2020, when they finished 8-8, and in 2021, when they went 10-7 and made the playoffs.

The Raiders have the lowest win total in the division at 8½.

“The Chiefs are the favorites to win it, and the Raiders are fourth, but you could make a case that could be flipped,” Red Rock Resort sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “The Chiefs have a really difficult schedule and lost Tyreek Hill.”

Chiefs concern

Kansas City has the league’s hardest slate (155 wins, 9.1 wpg). The Chiefs will play eight games against foes with double-digit win totals: two each against the Chargers and Broncos and one each vs. the Rams, 49ers, Buffalo Bills (11.5) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11.5).

The Chiefs will become the first team in NFL history to open a season with eight straight games against teams that finished with a winning record the previous season. Their first eight opponents average 9.9 wins.

The Raiders also face a daunting opening stretch, as their first five opponents average 9.8 wins: at Chargers, home against the Arizona Cardinals (9) without wideout DeAndre Hopkins, at the Tennessee Titans (9.5), home vs. the Broncos and at the Chiefs.

“Three of their first five are against the division. The first five weeks are going to set the stage for the AFC West,” Esposito said. “If they can somehow get out of the first five weeks 3-2, the Raiders come out of the bye with the Texans and Jaguars as two of their first three games.

“That could put them in a good spot at the midway point of the season.”

The Rams have the No. 2 toughest schedule (153 wins, 9.0 wpg) and will play an NFL-high nine games against teams with win totals of 10 or more: the Niners twice and the Bills, Buccaneers, Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Dallas Cowboys (10.5) and Green Bay Packers (11).

Softest slates

The easiest schedules among Super Bowl contenders with odds of 20-1 or less at the Westgate belong to the Indianapolis Colts (139, 8.1), Cleveland Browns (140, 8.2) and Cowboys (141, 8.2).

The Philadelphia Eagles (137, 8.0) and New York Giants (138, 8.1) have the league’s softest slates, with games against the Houston Texans (4.5), Detroit Lions (6), Jacksonville Jaguars (6.5) and Chicago Bears (6.5).

The NFC East foes will play only three games each against teams with double-digit win totals: Dallas twice and Green Bay.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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