Raiders 2003 schedule subplots

It might be only April but when the NFL releases its schedule, it's never too early to think of little things that stand out about each opponent. The Oakland Raiders have a few such games.

 It might be only April but when the NFL releases its schedule, it's never too early to think of little things that stand out about each opponent. The Oakland Raiders have a few such games.

No, we won't examine the nonsense idea of the difficulty the of Raiders schedule. In today's topsy-turvy NFL, the previous season's record means absolutely zilch the following season. The Green Bay Packers, who Oakland hosts December 22 on Monday Night Football, may have gone 12-4 last season but for all we know they could be an 8-8 disappointment in 2003. The Cincinnati Bengals may have gone 2-14 last season but who are we to say they won't go 8-8 this season.

Here's a closer look at Oakland's foes:

 Sunday, September 7, at Tennessee: The AFC Title Game, which Oakland won 41-24, rematch will be played in front of a nationally televised ESPN audience.

 Sunday, September 14, vs. Cincinnati: The Bengals, or more commonly known as the ‘Bungles' are not a prime example of how the salary cap has benefited the perennial weak sisters. Cincinnati, however, has a new coach (Marvin Lewis) and for once has seemed willing to be a player in the free agent market. One of those new faces is former Raider cornerback Tory James.

 Monday, September 22, at Denver:            Perhaps the NFL's biggest rivalry to the West of Chicago-Green Bay and it's only fitting they play on Monday Night Football. The Raiders began a string of winning eight of nine games in his stadium last season with a season-turning 34-10 blowout over Denver.

 Sunday, September 28, vs. San Diego: It will be strange watching a Raiders/Chargers battle without future Hall-of-Fame linebacker Junior Seau and safety Rodney Harrison. San Diego, however, fortified its offense by signing wide receiver David Boston.

Sunday, October 5, at Chicago: The Bears signed quarterback Kordell Stewart after Pittsburgh released him but how will he fare as Chicago's reclamation project. This will be the Raiders first trip to the Windy City since 1996, when the Bears beat Oakland 19-17.

Sunday, October 12, at Cleveland: The Raiders will be in an environment a lot like their own at the "Dawg Pound." Oakland can relate to a rabid fan base since it has the "Black Hole." The last time these two teams met, 36-10 Oakland romp in 2000, the Browns were in their second season as an expansion team.

Monday, October 20, vs. Kansas City: No need to remind Raider fans of the last Monday Night Football matchup against Kansas City in Oakland, a 28-27 last second win by the Chiefs.

 Sunday, November 2, at Detroit: The last time the Raiders visited MoTown; they were known as the Los Angeles Raiders.

 Sunday, November 9, vs. New York Jets: This will be the Jets seventh visit to Oakland since 1999. These two teams dislike each other like division rivals. How many times will Raiders' offensive guard Frank Middleton refer to the Jets as "punks" during the week?

       Sunday, November 16, vs. Minnesota: The Vikings finished last season on an upswing, will 2003 be a leap forward for second-year head coach Mike Tice's club?

 Sunday, November 23, at Kansas City: The Chiefs have made steady improvement in two seasons under head coach Dick Vermeil, will the third season be the charm?              

Sunday, November 30, vs. Denver: Late season game against Denver figures to have a lot of AFC playoff race ramifications.

 Sunday, December 7, at Pittsburgh: The last visit to Pittsburgh was an aerial assault for Oakland last season.      

 Sunday, December 14, vs. Baltimore: No need to remind Raider fans of Baltimore's last visit to Oakland – the 2001 AFC Title Game which the Ravens dominated Oakland 16-3.

 Monday, December 22, vs. Green Bay: With the NFL's format of having four teams in eight divisions, interconference opponents play each other every four years. To that end, this could be Packer quarterback Bret Favre's first – and last – visit to Oakland.

 Sunday, December 28, at San Diego: The game could have AFC Playoff ramifications but the big question is what percentage of fans will be wearing Silver & Black?

 Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com

 


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