If the autumn is to be a pirate, then the Oakland Raiders will need to win early and win often.
With a prevailing losing culture enveloping Oakland these past eight years, the last thing Tom Cable needs to be dealing with are early season losses.
The first four games, therefore, are the key to the success or failure of the Raiders' season.
These games will set the tone and marker for what unfolds.
The initial trip to Tennessee will be difficult. In fact, very difficult.
It will be an early test for how effective the Raiders’ new run defense is going to be. Will newcomers Lamarr Houston, Rolando McLain, and John Henderson improve Oakland’s terrible run defense of recent years and curtail the marauding Chris Johnson?
I suspect this answer will also answer the outcome of this game.
A win in Nashville would stun the NFL and result in the Raiders winning a season opener for the first time in eight years.
The second game of the season sees the visit of the St. Louis Rams to the Coliseum.
In theory, the Raiders could not have an easier first home game for Jason Campbell to debut as the new quarterback. However, three years ago, the Raiders started the season at home as heavy favorites to beat the lowly Detroit Lions and were promptly blown away 36-21.
There are no easy games in the NFL, and Oakland will need to pay St Louis the
maximum of respect.
Week Three has the Raiders visiting the Arizona Cardinals.
This is a changed Cardinal team without Kurt Warner.
Arizona ranked 28th last year in rushing yards per game, but Beanie Wells will be expected to up the ante.
Like Week One, this is where Oakland will need to impress with run defense and a win is a definite possibility. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush should get plenty of carries as the Raiders seek to run to victory on the road.
Another trying road game following the opener against the Titans. But what type of team will the Cardinals be this year? An impossible question to answer with Matt Leinart at the helm.
Week Four: On October 3rd, the Raiders host the Houston Texans.
Houston has a 3-1 all-time lead over the Raiders, and this will be a critical game in Oakland’s overall season.
Much is expected of the Texans this season and a playoff berth is widely expected. The Raiders will need to take advantage of a mediocre Texan running game and an offensive line that ranked 25th in sacks allowed.
If Seymour, Houston, Scott, and company can pressure Matt Schaub, then the Black Hole may enjoy a long night of celebrating.
If the Raiders can start 3-1 (or better), then the depression will lift and positive energy will return to the Silver and Black.
If Oakland can win early, a new beginning may be about to dawn in the East Bay.
Anything else is just not fathomable.