DENVER, Colo. - There's nothing like a cold November night in Colorado to bring out the best in Monday Night Football.
Case in point, this week's matchup between the top of the AFC West and the bottom of the AFC West. The battle of good versus evil, sanity versus the Black Hole, Shanahan versus Davis, Denver versus Oakland.
Call it what you may, it's a scenario that's been played out eighty-four separate times throughout NFL history, dating back to a time when none of today's players had even been born.
In fact, at the time of their very first meeting Mike Shanahan was still in grade school, while Raiders owner Al Davis was, well, older than dirt, but at least it was fresh dirt.
Now, some 40 years later, the rivalry continues, with as much fervor and hatred as ever before. Toss in the defection to the dark side by former Bronco Bill Romonowski and you've got a ratings coup television executive's could only dream of.
Is it any wonder that the NFL and ABC have the foresight to schedule this one midway through the season?
Granted, no one expected the Raiders belly-flop over the past four weeks, but few doubt it will have any effect on the amount of households glued to the edge of their seat for this year's edition.
In all reality, it may bolster ratings, with audiences divided between those relishing in another Oakland meltdown, and those praying for some kind of Bay Area divine intervention, as if the powers that be have any interest in the outcome of a National Football League game.
Adding to the festivities is the fact that this week's matchup will be the 500th Monday Night Football telecast. Since its inception, some thirty-three years ago, the prime time telecast has become television's longest-continually running entertainment series.
Heading the list in total number of appearances?
You guessed it, the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders, who've faced each other a total of thirteen times on Monday Night.
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