Realignment had differing effects

Different conferences, familiar foes. That situation aptly describes Sunday's regular-season opener between the Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks at the Oakland Coliseum. Now they meet as opponents from different conferences for the first time in NFL history now that realignment has taken effect since the Houston Texas have joined the league. The Seahawks are back in the NFC West, where they spent their inaugural season in 1976, after a 23-year stint in the AFC West. "It gets us into the AFC West mode even though they're in a different conference," Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown said. Both clubs were affected differently by realignment. For the Raiders, things changed very little because they will still play Denver, Kansas City and San Diego twice per season. The Raiders, who have won the last two AFC Western Division titles, chances for three-peating are not easier or harder. The Raiders and Seattle have split the last 16 regular season meetings since 1994. Oakland, however, may benefit from not having to travel once a season to Seattle, where it lost four of the last five seasons. Seattle, however, may be hard-pressed to improve on last season's 9-7 record after joining the NFC West, which includes St. Louis, San Francisco and Arizona. St. Louis and San Francisco combined for a 26-6 record a year ago. The Seahawks have question marks in both the secondary and the pass rush, not a good combination in a division that features quarterbacks Kurt Warner (St. Louis) and Jeff Garcia (San Francisco) and receivers Isaac Bruce (St. Louis), Torry Holt (St. Louis), Terrell Owens (San Francisco) and David Boston (Arizona).

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