Game one for the Raiders feels like the most important game in years, but is it?
The Oakland Raiders will play the first game of the 2017 season in mere hours and Raiders fans are on the edges of their seats with good cause. After the Raiders made a huge jump, winning 12 wins last year, expectations have made a huge jump this year.
For the first time since the Rich Gannon days there is talk about the Super Bowl being applied to the Raiders.
Because of those lofty expectations, there will be those who see game one as the beginning and end of the world. If the Raiders lose, and more importantly, if they lose in ugly fashion, Raiders fans will freak out. If they win, and more importantly, in dominant fashion, fans will sing songs of celebration as though the Lombardi trophy is already sitting in Alameda.
And here’s the thing, I can’t really blame either of those reactions even though both would be inappropriate.
Game one is important to be sure, but there are 15 games to follow that are also incredibly important. If the Raiders lose and lose badly, it’s a sign that they need to work harder. It’s a sign that the coaching staff needs to spend sleepless nights figuring out what went wrong. It means players need to look deep inside themselves and figure out what they might need to do better.
But even if the Raiders are blown out of the water, it doesn’t mean the season is over. It doesn’t mean hope is lost. It doesn’t mean that the world is crashing down around us.
And on the other side, a dominant win is important, but so are the 15 games to follow. If the Raiders dominate in week one only to struggle the rest of the season, it won’t matter one bit that the team looked dominant against the Titans.
One dominant performance doesn’t mean the Raiders are on their way to the Super Bowl. It doesn’t mean they are on their way to an AFC West crown. It doesn’t mean they are on their way to a playoff berth. Hell, it doesn’t even mean they are on their way to a winning record.
Game one of the season is important, very important. It does NOT, however, determine how the remainder of the season will go.
Game one is important because it’s a gauge for where the team is. It’s a gauge for what might need to be done better. It’s a gauge for what was done right. It will be the first piece of evidence on how the Raiders might need to adapt and adjust as the season progresses.
It’s important because the Titans are a strong test. Good but not so good that the Raiders should be overly concerned. It’s important because while the preseason gave us some hints, we still don’t know exactly what to expect from this team.
But no matter what happens on Sunday, the result should be taken seriously and evaluated in depth. But it should not result in overreactions one way or the other.