seattle seahawksOne of the best AFC rivalries will bring back nostalgia as the Seattle Seahawks face the Oakland Raiders on Thursday in the preseason finale. Before Seattle moved to the NFC in 2002, they and the Raiders played 49 times with Oakland holding a 26-23 advantage. Twice they met in the playoffs, with the Raiders winning the 1983 AFC title game at home in Los Angeles.  And of course there’s the iconic Monday Night Football image from 1987 when Bo Jackson ran over Brian Bosworth at the goal line like he was made of paper mache.

 What: Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders, Thursday, September 1, 10 p.m., Oakland Coliseum, Oakland CA.

Last Week/Next Week

The Oakland Raiders lost to the Tennessee Titans 27-14 last week to drop to 1-2 in the preseason. The Raiders are at New Orleans to start the regular season next week with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday, September 11. The Seattle Sehawks defeated the Dallas Cowboys 27-17 last week to move to 2-1 in the preseason. The Seahawks host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, September 11 at 4:05 p.m ET.

Oakland Raiders Preview

With so much optimism from the way last season ended, you can’t fault the Raiders for wanting 2016 to get here as soon as possible. Defensive end Khalil Mack says the final game of the preseason is actually his favorite because of who plays in it.

“I’m excited for the younger guys; get to see them take advantage of this opportunity. One of these opportunities only come so many times in a lifetime,” Mack said.

You’re getting to see … all those guys go out there and be aggressive and play for a long period of time,” Mack said. “It’s going to be exciting to see, and see how they make plays.”

The Raiders got some good news on Tuesday as free safety Reggie Nelson was back at practice. Also returning was fullback Marcel Reece. Reece hurt his groin against the Titans. He can play Thursday but won’t play again until the fourth week of the regular season per his drug suspension.

Derek Carr enters his third year as the Raiders’ starting quarterback with lots of excitement surrounding him.

Really happy with the way Derek Carr has shown command of the offense,” Raiders’ head coach Jack Del Rio said. “The other night, I thought the whole world got a little glimpse of it. I feel like watching him conduct himself in meetings throughout the offseason and the way he’s taken charge, we’ve given him more freedom in the offense and he’s really taken that and done a great job with it.

Seattle Seahawks Preview

Russell Wilson has held the Super Bowl trophy in his hands, but an Olympic gold medal? Yep, he got to try one on when Seattle Storm member Breanna Stewart visited camp. Stewart is on the US Women’s Basketball team.

Wilson will also be making the rounds and throwing out the first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game on Friday. Next week will start his first season without Marshawn Lynch in the backfield next to him. WIlson talked about Lynch during a recent press conference.

“Well, Marshawn is a great football player,” Wilson said. “The way he plays the game is as good as it can be. I think the maturation of our team, we know how to play and we know how to win. Ultimately, we believe in one another and we have our sights on the right thing. The preparation that we put into every day, it doesn’t get any better. So we’re excited about moving forward, we’re excited about that, but at the same time we always miss a guy like that.”

Thomas Rawls takes over for Lynch after averaging 5.6 yards per gain last year. Christine Michael parlayed his great preseason into the backup running back position.

For his own role in the offense, Wilson has vowed to protect the football at all costs.

“I think my biggest thing is that I’m trying to be a master at protection,” Wilson said. “When I got back in the summertime, as I was watching film, just continuing to study and do all that. When you think of guys like Peyton Manning, like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, they’re great at it.”

Seattle Seahawks at Oakland Raiders Predictions

Not a lot to see here as both teams kick off the seasons with high ambitions – the Seahawks to take the NFC West title back from Arizona; the Raiders to take advantage of weakened efforts from the Broncos and Chiefs to move up in the AFC West and find a spot in the postseason.

Score Prediction: Seattle Seahawks 20, Oakland Raiders 26