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On the heels of the mandatory minicamp, there’s a lot of speculation on the upcoming season and the games to watch. While all games on a team’s schedule are important, some stand out above the rest. A few of the Raiders’ opponents this year are going to cause some waves, and one just might cause a hurricane. If you can only tune into a few games this season, these are it. With that, here are the top three games to watch in 2017.

Tennessee Titans – Week 1, Sunday, September 10

Not only is this the long-awaited season opener, but it’s a fight between two up-and-coming teams led by young, promising quarterbacks whose seasons were ended prematurely. In 2016, both Derek Carr and Marcus Mariota broke their fibulas on the same day in week 16. They were cracks that sent shock waves through the league, as both Raiders and Titans fans collectively held their breath until news came back about the fractures. Then they exhaled, knowing the season was over, and hoping their QBs’ careers weren’t. The game promises a battle to the very end to answer the question about who comes out on top of The Fibula Bowl.

Dallas Cowboys – Week 15, Sunday, December 15

Week 15 will certainly be a sight to behold. Two of the best offensive lines in football, two of the best young quarterbacks, and two magnanimous running backs, one fighting to make his name, one fighting to reinvent his. There never was a better offensive battle. Two masterful offenses aside, this game will be determined by which defense is most improved. If the Raiders hope to win, they must bring a run block that can contain the power of young Zeke Elliot. Their pass defense has to improve to avoid Dak Prescott connecting with Dez Bryant. Bottom line, they have to be better. This game will be played in the Black Hole, fortunately for the Raiders. With tens of thousands of screaming Raider fans, the Cowboys will have more than one obstacle. Expect this one to be sold out.

New England Patriots – Week 11, Sunday, November 19

Few stories in football history have developed like the one between the Oakland Raiders and the New England Patriots. It’s David versus Goliath; Godzilla versus Mothra; some would say Good versus Evil. This is going to be the game of the century. The regular season game, anyways.

It’s almost poetic. The venerable quarterback near the end of his career, the greatest of all time. A young prodigy who is widely believed to be the one to dethrone him. And two teams behind them with a grudge. Only one player remains on each team from that fateful game with the call heard ’round the world. Tom Brady and Sebastian Janikowski both played that snowy, gut-churning night, and each of them has those memories to share with his team. For Brady, this is a prove-it game. Prove that it wasn’t one call that created his destiny. Prove that he can hold himself to a higher standard than his reputation suggests. For Sebas, a chance at redemption. A chance to carve his own name in the history books and earn his way to the championship that he was robbed of so many years ago.

Regardless of who wins, this is a game that will be watched by fans of every team. It’s not only the most anticipated game for the teams on each side of the ball, but it will be possibly the most popular game of the season.

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