Hard to believe one game could mean so much towards predicting the 2009 NFL season for one team and its owner, but I’m afraid it’s true.
Tom Cable remarked that he welcomed the challenge of the 2009 Monday night season opener against the San Diego Chargers when the NFL schedule was announced.
“That’s perfect for us. That’s perfect. That’s perfect. That’s where it should be for us. We need that game. We need San Diego to come in here, we need to do it at night so everybody can watch us,” said Cable at an April 19 press availability.
A win against the Chargers in the Monday night season opener could bring a season with as many as 11 wins and a chance at the playoffs for the Raiders.
That estimate is based on wins from momentum at the beginning of the season, heading into and out of the bye week and at the end of the season.
The last time the Oakland Raiders won an opening regular season game was in 2002.
A humiliating loss once again on national television for the Raiders could result in a five-win season (plus or minus one) and a new set of controversies for the organization, its No. 1 draft pick quarterback, and its aging owner.
Look into the past no further than the 2006 season, in which the Raiders' season opener was on Monday night against the Chargers (27-0 defeat for Oakland). The Raiders won two games that season.
The Raiders have struggled when playing under the national spotlight, as they have appeared unable to raise the level of their game to that of their opponents.
Another factor here is that the Raiders have not beaten San Diego since their first meeting of the season in 2003.
San Diego has enjoyed an 11-game win streak against the Raiders since.
The Raiders have shown under Cable they are capable of remarkable performances, such as the win in Denver against the Broncos last year.
What seemed unattainable was actually attainable, and it cost Denver’s coach Mike Shanahan (at the time) his job at the end of the season.
If the Raiders win the season opener, it could just as well cost Norv Turner his coaching job with the Chargers at season’s end or possibly sooner.
The Raider Nation can only hope that what Cable brought to bear in getting the Raiders a win in Denver last season can be applied against a San Diego team that undoubtedly is in their psyche.