May 27, 2014; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (52) stretches at organized team activities at the Raiders practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oakland Raiders: How To Evaluate Their 2014 Success

Every game is important in the NFL but for the Oakland Raiders in 2014, there are a select few that may garner even more importance.

Week 1 at the New York Jets

The key to a winning season almost always starts with winning on opening day.  More than that however is the fact Oakland will open against an opponent in the New York Jets who beat them last season 37-27.  Going back into MetLife stadium for a rematch will be a great barometer to see if the Raiders actually made any progress improving their roster from 2013.

Week 6 vs. the San Diego Chargers

Every divisional game is important in the NFL.  That’s a given.  However in this particular case the Oakland Raiders will play their first divisional game against the San Diego Chargers coming out of the bye week.  These are the kinds of games winning teams take care of business in what with the extra time to prepare and playing at home.

Week 10 vs. the Denver Broncos

The fact this game is against the AFC West king Denver Broncos is more coincidence than anything.  It just so happens the Denver is the opponent that falls into the only home game slot during a four-game stretch where the Raiders play three of four on the road.  That includes a visit to the world champion Seattle Seahawks and a rematch with the Chargers.  It’s probably the most brutal stretch of the entire 2014 schedule and could easily be their downfall.  That is why winning the lone home stand is so vital.

Week 14 vs. the San Francisco 49ers

Another inescapable truth about making the playoffs is sooner or later one must beat a really good opponent late in the season to make it.  They don’t get much better than the San Francisco 49ers.  This showdown may be just another game to them, but for the Oakland Raiders it could grant not only major schedule help but also Bay Area bragging rights.

Week 15 at the Kansas City Chiefs

As if playing the Niners late in the year weren’t tough enough, a week later the Raiders will have to visit the Kansas City Chiefs at their notoriously loud venue of Arrowhead Stadium.  Either way this game will be important.  If the Raiders lose to San Francisco it’s likely a second-straight loss in K.C. will end their season.  On the flip side a win over the Niners could mean an upset at Arrowhead might be the final surge needed to take it the distance.

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