Sept. 12, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE
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CSNCalifornia.comA year ago, I peered into my dusty Silver & Black crystal ball and went through the Raiders' season, game by game, and predicted each one's outcome. No, Nostra-Gutierrez did not predict each game correctly, but when the dust settled, I did have the Raiders going 8-8. So I had that going for me, which was nice.As such, I went into soothsayer mode again on the eve of the Raiders' 2011 season opener at Denver on Monday Night Football. Following then, one man's look ahead:The game: at Denver BroncosThe prediction: Win (1-0)The reasoning: The Raiders didn't look like much in the preseason, but injuries to skill positions kept the gameplan vanilla. Expect some "rocky road," then in a nip-and-tuck opener, won by a late, and very long, Sebastian Janikowski field goal in the Mile High air.The game: at Buffalo BillsThe prediction: Lose (1-1)The reasoning: The quintessential trap game. A short week, coupled with a cross-country flight and an improved Bills team all spell trouble. Maybe the Raiders should have considered flying to Buffalo after the Monday night opener in Denver to get better acclimated.
The game: vs. New York JetsThe prediction: Win (2-1)The reasoning: No, no one is going to slip Mark Sanchez a bad hot dog on the sidelines this time around. But it's the Raiders' home opener and from the Jets' perspective, this is their early-season trap game.The game: vs. New England PatriotsThe prediction: Lose (2-2)The reasoning: In the 10-year anniversary season of the infamous Tuck Rule, the Patriots will not need it this time around. Not with Tom Brady having his way with a thin secondary and picking it apart.The game: at Houston TexansThe prediction: Lose (2-3)The reasoning: Matt Schaub takes a gander at Brady's week-old blueprint and puts his own spin on things as it gets ugly in Houston for the Raiders, who make it through the brutal five-game stretch to open the season battle-scarred and in need of a gimme.The game: vs. Cleveland BrownsThe prediction: Win (3-3)The reasoning: Did I say the Raiders needed a gimme? Indeed, the Browns come to the Black Hole and the Raiders hit on all cylinders against the underachieving Clevelanders. But it's far from a cakewalk. Rookie QB Terrelle Pryor adds a new dimension as he is used in a few gimmick plays with his suspension ending.The game: vs. Kansas City ChiefsThe prediction: Win (4-3)The reasoning: The Raiders run their AFC West division winning streak to nine straight, dating to 2009, in a wild shootout heading into their bye week. The Chiefs, no longer able to hold things together with smoke, mirrors and duct tape as they did in winning the division in 2010, are in a spiral, while the Raiders are feeling good about themselves.The game: vs. Denver BroncosThe prediction: Win (5-3)The reasoning: Coming out of the bye with a winning record for the second season in a row, confidence is sky high and the Raiders win their 10th straight division game. It's a sluggish affair but Oakland is becoming a distinct home-field advantage again.The game: at San Diego Chargers The prediction: Lose (5-4)The reasoning: There's a fine line between between confident and cocky and overconfidence becomes the Raiders' worst enemy this week. The streaking Chargers put it to the Raiders in San Diego on national television on a Thursday night tilt.The game: at Minnesota VikingsThe prediction: Lose (5-5)The reasoning: The Raiders take a page from their 2009 defeat of Philadelphia by blitzing Donovan McNabb with aplomb. But while Oakland has improved its "Stop, stop, boom" run defense, Adrian Peterson pops just enough for the Vikings to run away and hide.The game: vs. Chicago BearsThe prediction: Lose (5-6)The reasoning: The Bears defense stymies the Raiders offense and injuries become a problem. Every year the Raiders lose a game they have no business losing. This might be the one. Panic starts to set in as the Raiders are suddenly riding a three-game losing streak that could grow to five in a row if they're not careful.The game: at Miami DolphinsThe prediction: Win (6-6)The reasoning: Another cross-country trip works in the Raiders' favor this time as they are able to just get away and focus on the task at hand. Every year, they win a game they should not. This is that game.The game: at Green Bay PackersThe prediction: Lose (6-7)The reasoning: The defending champs. In December. On the frozen tundra. 'Nuff said.The game: vs. Detroit LionsThe prediction: Win (7-7)The reasoning: Gut-check time for the Raiders, against one of the most improved teams in the NFL. The Lions' ferocious defensive front seven gives the Raiders offense fits. Paging SeaBass, who just might set a new record for longest field goal to win this game. Unless he's already set it in the opener at Denver.The game: at Kansas City ChiefsThe prediction: Win (8-7)The reasoning: The Chiefs are simply playing out the string while the Raiders are trying to run the table to finish with a winning record. Simply put, the Raiders are more talented than Kansas City. Even if Oakland's playoff chances are slim and none now. They need a lot of help in the season's finale week.The game: vs. San Diego ChargersThe prediction: Win (9-7)The reasoning: Remember how the Chiefs basically sat all of their starters after the first half of their 2010 regular season finale against the Raiders in anticipation of the playoffs? The Chargers do the same. The Raiders take advantage and do their part but the rest of the AFC does not cooperate as Oakland has its first winning season since 2002, but just misses the playoffs for the ninth straight season. Coach Hue Jackson tweaks Tom Cable's parting thought by saying, "We not a .500 team anymore." Al Davis is not impressed.
Sept. 12, 2011GUTIERREZ ARCHIVE