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The crosstown rivalry between the Raiders and 49ers will feature some familiar faces.
Narrowing down the 2014 49ers' schedule to just five important games is all but impossible. Each game is critical no matter how one slices it.
Yet there are a few games on the schedule that do not quite crack the five best to watch in 2014.
Week 14—at Oakland Raiders
Sunday, December 7 @ 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX
The "Battle of the Bay" resumes in this regular-season contest between these two crosstown rivals.
While regularly meeting in the preseason, this is the first time the 49ers and Raiders have met during the regular season since 2010 and will feature a matchup that has more than mere territorial bragging rights.
During the offseason, the Raiders inked former 49ers cornerbacks Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers, bringing a sense of familiarity to Oakland's coaching staff regarding San Francisco's defense. These familiar faces will add a little more "fuel to the fire."
There is always attention given to any 49ers/Raiders matchup given the locale and fanbases of each team.
Yet it is hard to fathom Oakland upsetting the 49ers in this one given the track record of both teams over the past couple of seasons. For that reason alone, this game does not make it into the top five.
Week 10—at New Orleans Saints
Sunday, November 9 @ 10:00 a.m. PT on FOX
For the third time in as many years, the 49ers will head to New Orleans to take on quarterback Drew Brees and the Saints.
San Francisco got the best of this matchup two seasons ago, while Brees and Co. rallied past the 49ers in a controversial game in 2013.
What will transpire this year?
Eric Branch of SF Gate summarizes what happened last year and how it may affect the 49ers' plans for facing New Orleans in 2014:
In the aftermath, ticked-off safety Donte Whitner vowed revenge, noting the 49ers had a “formula” to thwart the Saints’ prolific offense, which has been ordinary—22 points and 338.5 yards—in the teams’ past two meetings. Whither is gone, but the 49ers hope the formula remains.
Branch also points out that the 49ers own the road record against the Saints in New Orleans (24-13), so at least that is worth taking into account.
Aside from the controversial tackle of Brees by 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks last season, this matchup is not quite as enticing as some of the other games San Francisco will play this season.
Week 17—versus Arizona Cardinals
Sunday, December 28 @ 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX
The 49ers barely managed to squeak by the Arizona Cardinals in Week 17 last year, winning the final regular-season game on a Phil Dawson field goal as time expired.
After missing the playoffs with a 10-6 record, the Cardinals figure to be yet another potent team within the vaunted NFC West, and the 49ers will have their hands full with Arizona's No. 1 ranked rush defense in both Weeks 3 and 17.
This divisional rivalry is nothing on par with that of Seattle, but these two games should be no less exciting.
Given the talent within the division, each team's standings (including the Seahawks) could very well be in the air come Week 17. Needless to say, there may be a lot on the line when San Francisco hosts Arizona to close out the regular season.
That aspect makes this game enticing enough given the potential consequences associated with a win or loss. Yet the fact Arizona does not quite hold the same spot in 49ers fans' hearts as does Seattle, keeps this game just out of the top five.