Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
DANA POINT, Calif. -- If the Oakland Raiders are truly going to be different this year (and when I say different, I mean becoming a good team), they will have to set the tone early.
No better time than on opening day at home. For the third time in the four years ESPN has broadcast a "Monday Night Football" doubleheader to start the season, the Raiders are hosting the West Coast game. They will play AFC West champion San Diego on Sept. 14 in the back end of the doubleheader.
In 2006, the Chargers won 27-0 at Oakland on a Monday night game to start the season. Last year, Denver won 41-14 in Oakland to start the season. San Diego will be looking for its 12th straight win over Oakland.
The stakes are immense for the Raiders. If they can beat the Chargers, they can erase the memories of the recent Monday night flops and the Chargers' stranglehold on them. If Oakland wins this game, the Tom Cable era will be flying.
One of the reasons why Cable lost the interim tag and became Oakland's permanent head coach was the fact that the Raiders won their final two games of the 2008 season to finish 5-11.
The Raiders set an NFL record for losing at least 11 games in six straight seasons in 2008. But all the Cable regime is focused on is the momentum that was built at the end of last season. There is reason for hope in Oakland based on those two games.
If the Raiders can go out and win the Monday night opener, there will be great hope. If not, especially if the Chargers wax Oakland, despair will creep in.
The Raiders have a great opportunity to turn the tables early. Let's see if they can do it.