By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, April 10th, 2009 at 10:19 am in Oakland Raiders.
Two pieces of the puzzle have been filled in, with the rest to be pieced together next Tuesday.
Some of you are probably in a state of angst already, wondering how the evil schedule-makers will do their best to arrange a murderer’s row of opponents best suited to keeping the Raiders in a state of 11-plus loss agony.
The Raiders themselves have themselves fallen into this trap in the past, grumbling openly about having to open the 2005 season in New England when it should have been looked at as an opportunity rather than a death march.
(Funny how no one whined about the three straight home dates in games three through six that year).
Don’t expect any complaints in the Tom Cable regime.
The NFL already awarded the Raiders the Chargers in Week 1 in the late Monday night game. San Diego owns an 11-game win streak against the Raiders, and Oakland has embarrassed itself in each of its last two MNF home late shows _ including a 27-0 (Art) Shelling against San Diego.
Bring it on.
“It’s great because we need to get into a competitive deal right away, see where we’re at, where we can go,” Cable said at the NFL owner’s meetings. “There are a lot of positives.”
No more “poor Raiders.” A good place to start.
Taking down the Chargers in Week 1, and there is really no other healthy way to look at it if you’re a player or coach, would allow the Raiders to build on their Houston-Tampa Bay finish in 2008 and utilize it as a springboard, much as they did when they finished the 1999 season with a win in Kansas City.
A guess at how the rest of the schedule could play out:
It’s a road game by virtue of the fact that the A’s are at home.
Your “stick it to the Raiders” special would be a date in Pittsburgh, where the defending champions would have additional rest coming off their Thursday night opener with Tennessee.
With that being a little obvious, I’ll go with the New York Giants, and JaMarcus Russell getting a chance to show he’s not a bust before the world’s largest media market.
May as well give that rebuilt offensive line a test early and see where they’re at.
With the A’s on the road in Anaheim and home the following week, the Raiders will likely be at home for this game. Otherwise, they’d have three straight games on the road for the first time since 1993.
I’m sensing one of those early-season home dates against the Chiefs, with Cable leaving his fake field goal play in the trash can.
A road assignment at Cleveland and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan seems about right. If Ryan’s defense in Cleveland is anything like the ones he had in Oakland, Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas ought to be good for 170-plus yards and a few touchdowns.
Back home and again within the division, this time against Denver, which enables the NFL for a site swap should Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi combine for the 125 or so home runs it would take to get the A’s into the playoffs.
We’ll see if Russell can carry a passing offense by this point, because the Raiders aren’t going to run effectively on the road against Pittsburgh.
If you’re the Raiders, a home game against the Bengals is the closest thing to a sure thing _ unless, of course, Chad Johnson is silver and black at the time.
A good time for a week off. If those seven days are full of speculation about whether Jeff Garcia should be starting, the Raiders are in trouble.
You get the Bengals, a bye and then visit Houston to face the Texans. Life is good.
You can bet Cable will be remind his team how badly they got pushed around in Baltimore last year when the Ravens visit the Coliseum.
A road game in San Diego means there won’t be much of a travel issue on a short week heading into Thanksgiving.
Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when Jerry Jones gives Al Davis a personal tour of his new football palace before the Raiders play Dallas on Thanksgiving Day?
Those few extra days of rest are going help Cable and Co. devise blocking schemes for the myriad blitzes of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Having won their first game outside the state of California after Dec. 1 the previous year in Tampa, the Raiders try to make it two straight in Denver.
After beating Brett Favre in the Coliseum the year before, Kellen Clemens makes the Jets seem even less daunting.
Ah, the freezing wind, the smell of barbecue . . . it’s Arrowhead Stadium and the Chiefs in late December.
Wonder if Albert Haynesworth will still be healthy by now? It will be clear even before the Raiders host Washington in the finale if their conservative free agency approach was the way to go after Davis played it like Dan Snyder in 2008.
Cue Jim Mora.