My earliest recollections of Oakland Raiders football included quarterback Daryle Lamonica, glue-fingered (literally) receiver Fred Belitnikoff and iconic center Jim Otto, whose jersey number gave him more notoriety than most offensive lineman.
The Wausau, Wisconsin native became a territorial draft pick of the perspective Minneapolis AFL entry, whose owners elected to join the NFL instead. Otto’s rights then transferred to the replacement Oakland franchise. The rest became history, and 15 years and 74 surgeries (at last count) later became a football icon.
For my 1967 sim league, 00 came to mean something else.
The real-life 1967 Raiders served as a prequel to the legendary John Madden coached teams later on. Behind Lamonica’s passing, the team also gave berth to Al Davis’s mantra of the vertical attack. The team racked up 468 points in the regular season, scored 51 twice and reached or exceeded 40 on four other occasions, including the AFL Championship over an overmatched Houston Oilers squad.
Oakland’s lone losses would be a 27-14 decision to the New York Jets and the 33-14 loss to Green Bay in the second AFL/NFL Championship game.
In the sim, the Raiders made it through the regular season unscathed and then beat the Jets 24-10 for the league championship. The rest of the AFL represented mediocrity, with only the Jets, Chiefs and declining San Diego Chargers team that did as well as 8-6.
The story of the 1967 NFL season, both in the sim and real life, concerned the realignment into four divisions (Capitol, Century, Central, Coastal) after the New Orleans Saints became its 16th team.
The format featured no Wild Card playoff slots, which led to the Coastal Division dilemma, where the Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams resided. In the real season, the Rams claimed the division through a Week 14 over the Colts as the teams finished with identical 11-1-2 records.
In the sim, the Colts shockingly lost in Week 1 to the Atlanta Falcons, who went 0-14 in the 1966 sim. The Falcons would win its second game in the sim a week later while the Colts ran the table. The regular season concluded as the real season, with the Colts and Rams at the LA Coliseum with the division title at stake. This time Baltimore won, only to lose at home to Green Bay in the divisional playoff. The Packers in turn lost to the Browns in the sim 1967 NFL Championship, a rematch of the Championship game played two years earlier.
An important point must be made. Since it would be time consuming and near impossible to find the gametime temperatures of all pro football games of the past 50 years, I default all games to ideal weather conditions (70 and pleasant). I did 20 simulations of Browns/Packers game with Ice Bowl conditions, a -15 temperature and medium wind, the Browns won 11 of the 20 sims.
If this scenario become reality in 1967, history would question undefeated Raiders after 15 wins over the rest of the AFL and one win over the NFL. I did sim the Raiders against the other 15 NFL teams at a neutral site. The Raiders went 13-3, losing to both the Rams and Colts by one point and upset by the 49ers by three points. Many of the other games Oakland won handily.
Had the Raiders won the second AFL/NFL Championship, or played the Packers close, the 1967 Raiders would have been view differently. As it stands, the second championship is remembered as anti-climatic after the Packers Ice Bowl win and for coach Vince Lombardi’s ride off into the sunset.
KACSPORTS 1967 sim proves the Raiders as one of pro football’s best teams for that year and that the American Football League reached parity with the NFL earlier than given credit for.
At least in this world, Perfectville resides in the East Bay.