Tough '08 slate

The Raiders finished last season with a disappointing 4-12 record, but apparently the people who make up the NFL schedule thought they had made enough progress from the year before to warrant toughening Oakland's up a little.

As if their regular AFC West schedule wasn't already hard enough, the Raiders have to deal with the defending AFC champion New England Patriots — who just happened to finish the 2007 regular season undefeated, the first time that had happened since 1972 — in Week 15. This also means a not-so-friendly reunion with former Raider Randy Moss.

Oakland will also make four visits to the East Coast, one more than last season.

While the Raiders' schedule may be tough, the good news is that they can be seen in prime time, something that didn't happen in 2007.

In fact, the Raiders start their season in prime time, by virtue of a Monday night game at home against Denver. That kind of arrangement didn't carry over too well the last time, however; two seasons ago, in a similar situation, they were pasted on national TV by the San Diego Chargers and then went on to suffer through a historically-bad 2-14 season.

Thanks to the NFL Network, the Raiders will travel to San Diego to play a Thursday night game three months later. The only problem with that is Oakland's lack of success against the Chargers in the past five years.

If last season was any indication, the Raiders have a great chance to win three of their first four games before heading into the bye week, which arrives for Oakland in Week Five. They take on the Chiefs and Broncos, two teams that the Raiders had success against last season, and a Buffalo team that finished 7-9 in 2007.

After taking their licks against the NFC North last season, Oakland will square off against the teams that comprise the NFC South this year. They will get their first real test from that division immediately following the bye week, when they face the offensively-loaded Saints at the Louisiana Superdome, where the Raiders won back in 2000.

SNEEK PEAK BY WEEK

Raiders vs. Denver: Monday, Sept. 8. The Broncos are a tough team to read — they could contend for a playoff spot or fall completely apart. All eyes on JaMarcus Russell.

Raiders at Kansas City: Sunday, Sept. 14. The Raiders won at Arrowhead last year with Justin Fargas pounding out the tough yards in the final minutes. Can McFadden do the same?

Raiders at Buffalo: Sunday, Sept. 21. Oakland has won the last two meetings at Buffalo, but the last one happened six years ago. Bills are a team on the rise.

Raiders vs. San Diego: Sunday, Sept. 28. McFadden vs. LaDainian Tomlinson in a matchup of running backs who can pass. It's all downhill from here.

Raiders at New Orleans: Sunday, Oct. 12. This has all the makings of a shootout, but the Raiders don't have the firepower to stay with Brees & Co.

Raiders vs. NY Jets: Sunday, Oct. 19. The Jets' offseason moves have been overrated. More importantly is how Oakland shows up in the Meadowlands, where they've been outplayed the last two visits.

Raiders at Baltimore: Sunday, Oct. 26. The Raiders don't have a very good history with this team, dating back to the 2000 AFC title game.

Raiders vs. Atlanta: Sunday, Nov. 2. The Raiders have a knack for teeing off on immobile quarterbacks, so rookie Matt Ryan better have his head on a swivel.

Raiders vs. Carolina: Sunday, Nov. 9. May the Tyler Brayton love-fest begin.

Raiders at Miami: Sunday, Nov. 16. Their first road win in years came here last season, with former Raider Daunte Culpepper leading the way.

Raiders at Denver: Sunday, Nov. 23. Can Oakland be able to use their multi-headed rushing attack against Denver's run defense as the snow season hits?

Raiders vs. Kansas City: Sunday, Nov. 30. One bit of advice to JaMarcus Russell: keep the ball far away from safety Jarrad Page.

Raiders at San Diego, Thursday, Dec. 4. Oakland hasn't won here since 2002, and this year doesn't look very promising, either.

Raiders vs. New England: Sunday, Dec. 14. So many things for Raiders fans to hate about the Patriots: the Tuck Rule Game, Randy Moss, etc. Might want to get out your camcorders for this one.

Raiders vs. Houston: Sunday, Dec. 21. Since they're not in the AFC West, what is it about the Texans that the Raiders always seem to have them on the schedule.

Raiders at Tampa Bay: Sunday, Dec. 28. In a meeting of boy-wonder coaches, Jon Gruden once again out-smarts Oakland, this time on a slightly-smaller stage.

SB Report Top Stories