The first part of the Raiders' season saw some triumphant wins, some heartbreaking losses and good play all around in every game save the last one. Oakland's 4-3 record is well in keeping with expectations, and it leaves them tied for first place coming out of their bye week. The Raiders have four divisional games remaining, beginning with the Broncos in Week 9 and ending their season hosting San Diego in Week 17. Here I will preview all the upcoming Raider games. What will the Raiders have in store for them the rest of the year? Let's take a look.
Week 9: Broncos @ Raiders- Judging from the Broncos' last game in which they faced the best defensive line in all of football, the Raiders ought to find this game eminently winnable. The Broncos do not have a particularly good offensive line and shouldn't be able to stop Richard Seymour or Tommy Kelly from having huge days. Tim Tebow is capable of making plays with his legs, but he can't do that if he's flat on his back.
Week 10: Raiders @ Chargers- Anyone who watched the Chargers putz around the field and choke away the game on Monday Night against the Chiefs should be excited over this one. Philip Rivers has proven himself to be an elite level quarterback but he has taken a definite step back this year. He relies on Antonio Gates to bail him out of some awful situations. Ryan Mathews has taken a step forward but still isn't the elite back he was expected to be coming out of college. If the Raiders have their offense clicking for this game, they will have a very good chance of winning.
Week 11: Raiders @ Vikings- Here the Raiders face a team that has been awful all year long. They played their hearts out against Green Bay and still lost. By this time of the season, the Vikings may have already packed it in and made their offseason vacation plans. Adrian Peterson and their defensive linemen are formidable, but they don't have many weapons in the passing game and Christian Ponder will still be finding his way as a rookie. At least they don't have to endure McNabb anymore.
Week 12: Bears @ Raiders- This will be an interesting game. The Bears are either amazing or awful, depending on the week. Will the Raiders face the same team that got demoralized by the Lions, or the team that trounced Minnesota? It remains to be seen. What we do know is that you should never kick the ball to Devin Hester and you should never let Matt Forte have any running room outside the tackles. Aaron Curry's play will be especially important here.
Week 13: Raiders @ Dolphins- The Dolphins are terrible. They couldn't hold on to beat the Broncos with a fifteen point lead and three minutes remaining, and they couldn't hold off the Giants last week after dominating for most of the game. They don't have a lot going for them except for the play of their safety, Yeremiah Bell. He is really good. The Raiders should win barring any ridiculous mistakes.
Week 14: Raiders @ Packers- Oh, great. The Raiders get to travel to Lambeau in early December. The Packers should be at 12-0 by this time. As soon as this game is over it should be immediately forgotten.
Week 15: Lions @ Raiders- Here's a fun challenge; two of the best defensive lines in all of football facing each other. The Lions don't really have a running game, but they don't need one with Calvin Johnson catching everything in sight. He is un-coverable. The Raiders will have to play extremely well to win. They should watch the Niners-Lions games for pointers on how to slow the Lions offense.
Week 16: Raiders @ Chiefs- When the season began, many people figured that the Raiders' Week 17 showdown with the Chargers would decide the divisional crown. Now I think it might be this game. Who knows what kind of Chiefs team we see then, and how Carson Palmer will have evolved the Oakland attack. This will be a very important game for both teams.
Week 17: Chargers @ Raiders- At this point in the season, the Chargers will have either exerted their dominance over the division or imploded from the pressure and unrealistic expectations. I'm leaning toward the latter.