After an offseason of change, the Raiders will get a very public first test of their new coach and roster in 2012.
Oakland will open the season on “Monday Night Football” against AFC rival San Diego on Sept. 10 at O.co Coliseum.
The questions going into next season are many. Does first-year head coach Dennis Allen know what he’s doing? Will running back Darren McFadden be healthy? Will a pair of new cornerbacks be more effective than last year’s tandem? Will the Raiders’ defense be less prone to implosion? And will the Raiders figure out a way to stop being the most penalized team in the NFL?
For Allen, the chance to debut on primetime against the Chargers is something he’s looking forward to.
“I’m excited about it,” Allen told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vittorio Tafur Tuesday after the NFL released every team’s schedule for next season. “You grow up watching ‘Monday Night Football’ and (hearing) the theme song.”
After opening with the Chargers, the Raiders won’t see them again for a long time – San Diego will be the closing game to their schedule, Dec. 30 in Southern California.
After opening the season on primetime, Oakland will have just one more night game, a Dec. 6 matchup against the visiting Broncos and new quarterback Peyton Manning.
Also, noted Tafur, the Raiders will have five road games in the Eastern Time Zone in 2012, the most in franchise history: at Miami Sept. 16, at Atlanta Oct. 14, at Baltimore Nov. 11, at Cincinnati Nov. 25 and at Carolina Dec. 23.
Now that the schedule is set, Allen was asked if the upcoming season now seems more real now that he knows what the road ahead looks like.
“I don’t know if it makes is seem more real that it’s coming up,” he told Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group. “Obviously it’s exciting when you get a chance to look at it. Obviously you know who you’re playing. You go through the process of looking at those teams. All right, we have this team early in the year, late in the year. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter. We have to line up and go play those games whenever they call for us to go play them.”
One game to look forward to is the Nov. 25 trip to Cincinnati to play the Bengals.
Former Raiders coach Hue Jackson, fired after last season, is now a Bengals assistant, and former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer – who held out last season before being traded to Oakland – will get a chance to play in front of what could be a hostile crowd after declaring “I will never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again.”