Rivalries top Raiders' most intriguing 2014 games

Rivalries top Raiders' most intriguing 2014 games
April 23, 2014, 12:15 pm
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The Chiefs went from 2-14 in 2012 to 11-5 in 2013, just the type of turnaround the Raiders are seeking. (USATSI)

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The schedule is coming! The schedule is coming! The NFL’s latest non-event, Wednesday evening’s “when” release of the NFL schedule -- we already know the “who” and “where” -- will draw tremendous interest from a football-rabid nation, including a Raiders faction hoping to see improvement against some tough competition.

We’re but a few hours away from the big reveal -- live on NFL Network of course -- so let’s dive a bit deeper and rank the most intriguing matchups of the upcoming slate, separating slates home and away:

[RELATED: Raiders schedule to be unveiled Wednesday]

HOME
1. Kansas City: The Raiders have said they want to be this year’s Chiefs, a franchise that went from 2-14 to 11-5 in 2013. In order to be them, you have to beat them. And, there’s nothing better than playing an old rival in your own stadium.

2. Arizona: Former Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer will face the team he led for 25 games from 2011-12. No matter which team wins, it will certainly be “Palmer’s fault.” Oh, and left tackle Jared Veldheer makes his return to Oakland after bolting to Arizona this offseason. Will be interesting to see if he’s cheered or jeered.

3. Houston: More revenge storylines: Quarterback Matt Schaub plays his old team in his new digs. Think he’ll have some adrenaline flowing before that game?

4. San Diego: The Raiders best 2013 home performance came against the Bolts. An encore of that surprise upset would elevate them in the AFC West.

5. San Francisco: This outcome could be lopsided, but the tension in the stands should be palatable. These fan bases don’t like each other. At all.

6. Miami: Freshen your stadium Governa’? The Raiders will play this “home” game at Wembley Stadium in London. For novelty’s sake, will throw this one in the mix.

7. Denver: Peyton Manning is always an attraction -- who doesn’t marvel at one of the greatest passers ever -- and the Broncos star-quality is extremely high with DeMarcus Ware, Wes Welker, et al. But who really wants to see a blowout on home turf?

8. Buffalo: Name six Bills in 30 seconds. Good luck.

AWAY
1. San Diego: Raiders fans always turn out in droves. Qualcomm Stadium is the team’s home away from home.

2. Kansas City: Chiefs fans set a record for loudest stadium roar last time in Kansas City. It’ll be loud again, and should provide a real test of the Raiders veteran leadership. Can a team so bad on the road in recent seasons win in a tough environment.

3. Cleveland: Good chance to snag a road win in the Eastern time zone, where the Raiders haven't won since 2009. Gotta be intrigued by that.

4. Seattle: It would be No. 1 if recently traded quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a real shot of playing in this game. Alas, playing the Super Bowl champs in an intimidating stadium is always interesting.

5. N.Y. Jets: Raiders will play Gang Green for the fifth time in seven seasons. They’ve split the last four, but the 2014 edition is on the road. On the Eastern Seaboard. Yikes.

6. New England: Tom Brady will test a new, improved (albeit older) Raiders secondary.

7. St. Louis: Raiders will be playing with the ghost of Rodger Saffold. Rams will be playing with the man himself (assuming that shoulder hold’s up).

8. Denver: It’s an AFC West rival, but it might not be pretty.