The NFL offseason seems to get shorter each year, but still is a time for unbridled enthusiasm.
With that in mind, I'd like to present you my dream season for my beloved Oakland Raiders. In no way do any grudges I may hold over the past 35-plus years of devotion sway my emotions.
April 26-27 - Draft weekend
Darren McFadden is still available at No. 4 and is proud to model his black jersey in NYC. After that, I'm really not educated enough to comment on other college players, and don't like to pretend I do, as far too many NFL fans do. I would love to see us pick up a pass-rushing DE and maybe an OG in the later rounds.
As a raucous full house cheers on a revamped Raider defense, the "O" steals the show, as full-time starting QB JaMarcus Russell throws for 3 TDs and 326 yards including a 73-yard touchdown pass to newly acquired Javon Walker. It is Oakland's first win against the Texans in team history.
Week 2 - Oakland @ Baltimore
In early-third-quarter action with the score tied at 10, Ray Lewis is carted from the field after a Zach Miller knee to the head leaves him unable to continue. Miller is the recipient of a Russell 17-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, proving to be the difference in a defensive battle. Oakland prevails 17-13, with second year Russell improving day by day.
Week 3 - Oakland @ Denver
Pre-game warm-ups prove to be hazardous, when at the direction of Mr. Davis, a down and out fastball from Russell splits the nose of head coach Mike Shanahan. Though purely an innocent mistake, the ferret-faced coach Shanahan can be heard screaming profanities at Mr. Davis on his was to the trainer's room. Oakland wins the game 20-10 on a combined 216-yard rushing effort from RBs Michael Bush and McFadden.
Week 4 - Carolina @ Oakland
DeAngelo "Fall"? Not hardly, as newly acquired CB DeAngelo Hall limits WR Steve Smith to two catches for 17 yards while returning an INT 66 yards for a TD, helping the Raiders hold on to a 24-23 victory.
Week 5 - Oakland @ San Diego
With the usual 25 percent of this crowd cheering for the Silver and Black, things turn a bit ugly. After a rare Russell interception, C Jake Grove is ejected from the game after dashing to the San Diego sideline and beating QB Philip Rivers within an inch of his life.
His ejection and personal foul proves costly, as the Chargers squeak out a 17-16 victory. In a postgame interview, Grove is quoted as saying "That whiny-ass punk was talking smack to my quarterback. You just don't do that to one of ours."
Week 6 - Kansas City @ Oakland
In a game reminiscent of AFL years gone by, the Chiefs and Raiders put on an offensive spectacle.
With Kansas City leading 48-45, the Raiders march 87 yards in the game's final 1:26, leaving them with a fourth and goal from the Chiefs one-yard line and three ticks remaining on the clock. Stunning the crowd, Oakland bypasses a chip-shot FG and delivers the knockout blow with a McFadden waltz into the end zone behind soon to be All-Pro T Robert Gallery. Final score Oakland 52, Kansas City 48.
Week 7 - New York Jets @ Oakland
The bye week proved to be fruitful, as the Raiders came out blazing. With touchdown receptions from WRs Ronald Curry and Johnnie Lee Higgins, and a three-sack performance from DE Jay Richardson, Oakland completely dominates the hapless Jets in a 34-6 beatdown.
Week 8 - Oakland @ Tampa Bay
FS Michael Huff continues his Pro-Bowl season by intercepting Bucs QB Jeff Garcia three times. Walker goes for 191 combined yards, including a 71-yard end around on the game's first offensive play. The 31-16 Oakland victory marks only the second loss of the season for the Buccaneers, who lose RB Carnell "Cadillac" Williams for a second straight year with a torn MCL.
Week 9 - Oakland @ Miami
RB Justin Fargas, who seemed to be the forgotten man in the Raiders’ backfield this season, explodes for 129 yard on 23 carries in a lopsided 31-13 Oakland victory.
Week 10 - Denver @ Oakland
A close-fought battle turns ironic, as with the game tied at 13 and time running out, the aforementioned rodent-resembling coach of the Broncos calls for a timeout just as K Sebastian Janikowski sets his plant foot for a game-winning FG.
As luck would have it, the timeout was honored and Janikowski's missed 44-yarder is negated. Subsequently, the combined laughter of 62,000 laughing fans ushers Shanahan out of the stadium in humility, following a 16-13 Raider victory.
Week 11 - Oakland @ New Orleans
QB Drew Brees hooks up with recently added TE Jeremy Shockey for two touchdown grabs, as the Saints edge the Raiders 21-20. Russell is suspended for the game due to missing a team meeting the day before. He was photographed on Bourbon Street dancing with six Saints cheerleaders.
Week 12 - Atlanta @ Oakland
Hall shows his former employers what they let get away. His three INTs, along with two more from SS Gibril Wilson, prompted Atlanta to bench QB Chris Redman in the third quarter. Bush rushed for 98 yards in a 27-0 Oakland shutout.
Week 13 - New England @ Oakland
Russell's 3-TD, 343 yard performance is outshined by Tom Brady. The Patriots’ QB torched the Raiders’ secondary for 412 yards and 4 TDs on the way to a New England 42-38 win. Brady is then struck in the helmet with a "D" cell battery while leaving the field by a well-quenched member of the Black Hole.
Week 14 - Oakland @ Kansas City
Newly named starting Chiefs RB LaMont Jordan is stymied by the Raiders’ defense. His 22 carries for 15 yards is a career-low average for Jordan. McFadden muscles for 162 yards on 17 carries in the 23-7 Oakland win.
Week 15 - San Diego @ Oakland
Avenging a week five loss, the Raiders’ offensive line proved to be the difference in a 27-14 victory. Four Raider RBs combined for 271 yards rushing in a demoralizing day for the Chargers defense. Coach Norv Turner was struck in the head with a "D" cell battery upon leaving the field. Should've had a helmet.
Week 16 - Oakland @ Buffalo
In a snowy season finale, Russell is benched due to ineffectiveness in the second quarter. Offseason addition QB Chris Simms' two touchdown passes along with Fargas' 138 yards rushing help Oakland beat the Bills 24-14, ending the regular season with a conference-best 13-3 record.
Divisional playoff - Cincinnati @ Oakland
In the first playoff game in Oakland since the 2002 AFC Championship game, the Raiders do not disappoint. LBs Thomas Howard and Kirk Morrison each intercept QB Carson Palmer on the way to a convincing 31-13 Oakland victory.
AFC Championship - New England @ Oakland
Nervous Raider fans watch as referee Walt Coleman is introduced to the crowd. With no snow to impair his vision, he correctly calls a Brady fumble as such recovered for a touchdown by DE Derrick Burgess. An ominous chant of "FUCK THE TUCK" echoes throughout the coliseum, as the delirious crowd enjoys the 27-23 win over the defending AFC champions.
Super Bowl XLIII - Tampa Bay vs. Oakland
Stunned by the news of a six-year homosexual relationship between head coach Jon Gruden and GM Bruce Allen, the Buccaneers lay an egg. Russell enjoys his finest day as a pro. His 452 yards passing earn him MVP honors on the way to an Oakland 41-9 trampling of the NFC champs.
Like I said, it's a time for unbridled enthusiasm.
Please keep in mind that this was written in gest, and before the official schedule was released.