As the offseason kicks into full affect around Raiderville, there are still several unanswered questions that will dramatically shape the future of this franchise. Obviously the most pressing need amongst the fan base is the status of Head Coach Tom Cable. Will he be back to prowl the sidelines or is he destined to become another coaching casualty in Al Davis’ seven-year reign of terror?
Update: The latest rumor from various internet sites has ex-Raider assistant and current Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh taking over in Oakland as soon as Cable is released from his duties (I’ve gotta see that to believe it).
One thing that isn’t in flux is the 2010 schedule. True, the dates aren’t set, but the opponents are. According to ESPN’s AFC West Blogger Bill Williamson, the Raiders play the toughest schedule in the division and 16th most difficult overall.
(Somehow the four-time AFC West champion Chargers received the 29th most difficult schedule, what’s up with that)?
In Oakland, the home games look rather pedestrian. The best team on the docket is Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. This team could be defending Super Bowl champions when they roll into Oakland next season. Along with the customary visits from division foes, the Raiders will also entertain Miami, Houston, St. Louis and Seattle.
In that regard, the league may have thrown the Raiders a bone.
A very light home schedule will certainly help turn Oakland into a respectable –if not playoff caliber team. Producing a home mark of 6-2 or 5-3, would keep the Raiders in the playoff hunt.
But tough road games will make up for the somewhat weak home stanzas.
Of course, the Steelers will also be looking for some revenge, as they failed to “unleash hell” against the Raiders and others this past December. In retrospect, it was one of the more entertaining contests of 2009 and the league may want to consider this game as a season opener.
Raiders and Niners fans will gather in force again, for the Battle of the Bay. But this series has not been kind to the Silver and Black. Oakland has lost two of the last three meetings, including an embarrassing loss in 2006 under Art Shell.
Jon Gruden was the coach the last time Oakland beat San Francisco in regular season play. In that overtime thriller, Rich Gannon hit Tim Brown for a game-winning touchdown, to give the then AFC West leading Raiders a 34-28 win and a 4-1 record on the season.
This time around, it could easily be Alex Smith to Vernon Davis for the game winner. But who really knows what will happen, after all, Oakland beat the Eagles, Steelers, Bengals and Broncos and then lost to the Browns.
Forecasting 2010? It’s way too early for that, but it would appear for the first time, in a long-time, that the schedule will benifit Oakland with a manageable slate of games.