Defensive End Khalil Mack
Raider Nation, I fully expect the noise level to be ear piercing this Sunday, and so do members of the Oakland Raiders.
It's no secret home field advantage is a significant aspect of the game atmosphere, and can affect the line of communication for opposing teams. When the Silver and Black host the New York Jets this weekend, naturally it'll be an exciting environment due to the fact it's the home opener, but throw Oakland native Marshawn Lynch in the equation, and the crowd level should become amplified.
After playing in the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum during his high school championship with Oakland Tech, Lynch went on to the University of California Berkeley where he continued to put on for the Bay Area. From there, No. 24 journeyed to Buffalo, and of course Seattle, where he would win a Super Bowl and establish the moniker "Beast Mode."
"This is his home, like me," Head Coach Jack Del Rio said Friday. "I know he's going to have special feelings being out there and it's going to be great. It's always great when we come in front of our people here at home."
While everyone will anxiously be waiting for Lynch to return to the same field he once played on in high school – including me the home opener is about the team. With all eyes set on a return to the playoffs, that road to the postseason starts at home, and the support of the fans goes a long way. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was robbed of playing in the playoffs last year, due to his broken fibula, but believes the atmosphere at the Coliseum should be electric.
"It's exciting, it's an electric atmosphere," Carr stated Wednesday during his weekly media session. "I haven't been able to play in one, but I'm pretty sure it's like a playoff game. I'm pretty sure it's that kind of feel. I think that our fans are the best in the world. Whenever we play at home, there's nothing like it. I've been able to play at some special places and this is definitely one of them."
At home in 2016, the Silver and Black finished with a record of 6-2 (including the game in Mexico City against the Houston Texans). Winning on the road is always the goal, but winning at home is a must.
Opposed to being on the road, when the momentum of the game shifts at home, and things appear to be going in the opponents favor, the fans are an essential part of rejuvenating the vibe. If the defense needs a big stop on third down, the crowd can rally to disrupt the offensive game plan, and Raiders Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., knows it.
"Anytime you get a chance to come home and play [in front] of your home crowd, it's really exciting," Norton continued. "The opener at home, exciting, and the hometown and the crowd being behind us. As exciting as playing at this level is, it takes it up a whole nother notch when you're at home."
Come Sunday, I fully anticipate everyone in attendance at the Coliseum to show their Raiders pride, and let the Jets feel the presence of Raider Nation.
Kickoff starts at 1:05 PST, don't be late to the Raiders first home game of the 2017 campaign.