The NFL opened up two dream stadiums in Las Vegas and Los Angeles last year and the league got its wish for a storybook beginning for both home teams recently. After the Rams blew out the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football to set the tone at SoFi Stadium, the Raiders fought, scratch, and raided their way to a 33-27 overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens in front of fans for the first time, winning on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Zay Jones.
Only 3:38 separated the NFL from a dreaded tie on Monday Night Football with thousands of screaming Raiders fans ready to rip Allegiant Stadium apart before flooding the strip and betting it all on ... red.
Never before has the league been able to put its fans so close to desperate, emotional mistakes in response to a devastating defeat before and now you’re probably wondering: When can I go see my favorite NFL team play in Las Vegas?
Unfortunately, the LA Rams are going to have to wait a while.
Though the Rams do play the Las Vegas Raiders in 2022, that game is going to be at SoFi Stadium, which gives an opportunity for all those lifelong Raiders fans from Las Vegas the opportunity to check out SoCal. But as you probably know, that means a four-year wait before the Raiders can re-pay the favor.
The NFL schedules AFC-NFC teams to face off against each other once every four years, alternating home locations.
However, there is now a loophole: The 17th game.
And pretty soon, maybe, probably: The 18th game.
Every team plays an extra game now against an interconference opponent that is pre-decided based on divisions. This year, the Rams are playing the Baltimore Ravens — the very team that the Raiders beat on Monday — in the 17th game.
The NFC West is scheduled to play its 17th game against the AFC West in 2024.
If the Rams and Raiders both finish in the same place in the standings in 2023, then it becomes more possible, if not likely, that the Rams (and you, and your wallet) will be heading to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas in 2024.
It could also be that the NFL has already instituted an 18th game by then, increasing the odds of a trip to Vegas.
Of course, none of what I’ve written includes the possibility of the Rams playing the Raiders in the preseason, which we know happens often.