Wow, were those political conventions inspiring, or what? We should follow their lead. We should unite to a common purpose. We should believe that in America, anything's possible.
To that end, here's a comprehensive 17-point best-case scenario under which the Raiders win the AFC West this season:
Week 1: Justin Fargas runs for two early touchdowns. When Darren McFadden introduces himself to "Monday Night Football" with a 67-yard scoring run in the third quarter, the Broncos are busted. Oakland wins its first season opener since 2002, 27-21.
Week 2: The rebuilding Chiefs are an easy mark. DeAngelo Hall and Nnamdi Asomugha each intercept two Brody Croyle passes as the Raiders win in Kansas City 28-6. Meanwhile, in Denver, Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman leaves the game with his left knee making cement mixer-type noises.
Week 3: Turns out the Raiders can stop the run. Oakland holds Buffalo's Marshawn Lynch to 42 yards rushing in a 24-14 road win. McFadden seals the deal with a 45-yard halfback pass to Javon Walker. "I want to play forever," Walker says.
Week 4: The Raiders have seen this act before — San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson rushes for 155 yards and three touchdowns as the Chargers win 34-20 to break a tie for the division lead. "Same old Raiders," L.T. says afterward.
Week 5: The bye week is a winner. San Diego travels to Miami and loses to the lowly Dolphins.
Week 6: JaMarcus Russell throws three short TD passes, and linebacker Thomas Howard returns a Reggie Bush fumble for a touchdown as the Raiders win in New Orleans 28-24. Meanwhile, in San Diego, Antonio Gates leaves the Chargers' loss to New England, his left big toe pointing toward the North Star.
Week 7: Brett Favre throws for five touchdowns, extending his personal record against the Raiders to 5-0 with a 42-14 win. "And to think I used to like that guy," Al Davis says as he leaves the stadium.
Week 8: Oakland holds the Ravens to 155 yards in a 27-7 win at Baltimore. Sebastian Janikowski wows the crowd with field goals of 53 and 59 yards.
Week 9: Derrick Burgess sacks Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan four times in the Raiders' 27-23 win at home. The Raiders top 100 yards rushing for the eighth straight game. "It reminds me of who we are," coach Lane Kiffin says.
Week 10: The Raiders revert to form, committing 11 penalties for 110 yards in a 33-14 loss to Carolina. Meanwhile, in San Diego, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers leaves the game after his right knee makes a noise like a banjo string snapping.
Week 11: The Raiders win at Miami 31-16 as Russell throws for one touchdown and runs for two. Coupled with San Diego's loss at Pittsburgh, it puts Oakland back into a tie for the division lead.
Week 12: Broncos coach Mike Shanahan ices Janikowski before a game-winning field goal try in Denver. When Janikowski misses from 48 yards, sealing a 17-16 Raiders loss, Shanahan celebrates by running around the field like an airplane. "Him I never liked," Davis says.
Week 13: Another easy win over Kansas City 28-3. Meanwhile, in San Diego, Tomlinson leaves the game with his left knee making popcorn popper-type noises.
Week 14: The 8-4 Raiders meet the 8-4 Chargers in San Diego on a Thursday night. With the Chargers' four best players on crutches, it's no contest. Russell throws for two touchdowns in the first half, and the Raiders score two defensive touchdowns in the second half en route to a 31-10 win. Tomlinson is unavailable for comment.
Week 15: The Raiders jump New England early and ease to a 24-14 win. Patriots receiver Randy Moss leaves the game in the third quarter with an injury of vague origin.
Week 16: Russell has his first 300-yard game as a pro. Ronald Curry catches 12 balls for 166 yards and runs for a 30-yard touchdown on a reverse as the Raiders romp past Houston 41-28.
Week 17: The Raiders finish 12-4 and clinch the division in grand style, intercepting Jeff Garcia six times and beating Jon Gruden's Buccaneers in Tampa 57-10. A grateful Davis awards Kiffin a black Cadillac Escalade — with Raiders logos on the hood, tailgate and all four doors.
Contact Gary Peterson at email@example.com.