By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, November 8th, 2009 at 9:20 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders last eight opponents have a combined record of 31-31 (it will be 32-32 after tonight’s Pittsburgh-Denver game). It’s a mix of playoff contenders and fellow also-rans that will determine the fate of coach Tom Cable, assuming he makes it through the rest of the season, as well as much of the roster.
Here’s the rundown, following Sunday’s games with the Raiders in their bye week . . .
Nov. 15_vs. Kansas City (1-7) at Coliseum: The Chiefs were 24-21 losers in Jacksonville Sunday. Wide receiver Chris Chambers, whom Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha advocated claiming when waived by the Chargers, was first claimed by Kansas City and caught a pair of touchdown passes.
Never mind that of the four wins the Chiefs have in their last 30 games, two have been against the Raiders. This is not only a chance for Raiders to gain some traction, but for Tom Cable to exorcise the thought of last year’s fake-field goal turned Maurice Leggett 67-yard touchdown return _ the telling play in a crushing loss.
Nov. 22. Cincinnati (6-2) at Coliseum: If the Bengals can suddenly climb from the depths to contender . . . hey, a person can dream. Two things two watch closely _ Bengals’ power back Cedric Benson heading into the heart of the Raiders defense, and Bengals middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, the USC thumper considered too slow to play for Oakland.
Nov. 26 at Dallas (6-2, Thanksgiving Day): If the Raiders can beat their fellow also-rans in the remaining schedule (Chiefs, Redskins, Browns) and score an impressive high-profile win in the House that Jerry built before a national audience, the reports of Cable’s demise may be premature.
Dec. 6 at Pittsburgh (5-2): Last time Raiders won at Heinz Stadium, Rich Gannon had thrown 41 passes by halftime. Unless the return of Chaz Schilens does something remarkable to JaMarcus Russell, their best chance this time around would be to have 41 runs by halftime.
Dec. 13 vs. Washington (2-6) at Coliseum: Ah, the empty seats, Davis vs. Snyder, the organizations widely considered the most dysfunctional in the NFL . . . the Raiders and Redskins will get a ton of unwanted national attention for this one. By this time, Jon Gruden-to-Washington speculation will be rampant.
The most quotable guy this week will be DeAngelo Hall, who appears to have been a key ingredient in the demise of both teams but is the last to realize it.
Dec. 20 at Denver (6-1): When the Raiders thumped the Broncos 31-10 at Invesco Field last year, they pretty much sealed to doom of their former tormentor, Mike Shanahan.
Dec. 27 at Cleveland (1-7): Rex Ryan already exacted revenge on for his brother rob when his Jets embarrassed the Raiders 38-0. All the blitzes Rob Ryan wanted to call but never did will show up in this one, but that’s no guarantee they’re going to work. The inability to stop the run has followed Rob Ryan from Oakland to Cleveland.
Jan. 3_vs. Baltimore (4-4) at Coliseum: Who knows what the Ravens will be like at this point, but they’re a different team than the one that beat up the Raiders last season in Baltimore. The Ravens are a much better passing team and not nearly the defensive juggernaut.