The 2017 NFL season is nearly upon us. Despite the visible light at the end of the tunnel, the next seven weeks will be a period of torment for some fans as they count down the hours until the Gods bless us with another season of gridiron glory.
Luckily for those fans, season seven of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” will arrive this Sunday to ease their pain, adding excitement to a time that coincides with the tail end of the slowest period of the NFL offseason.
The fate of the Seven Kingdoms remains a mystery heading into season seven just as the destiny of each NFL team is unknown heading into another league year.
For Raider Nation, there are several compelling storylines to follow amongst their team as football resumes. Will Amari Cooper take the next step? How is Derek Carr’s rehab progressing? Can the defense improve?
Many parallels can be drawn between the men heading to Napa on July 28 and those headed for the Long Winter in George R.R. Martin’s best-selling series. Both are in for a test of wills, mentally and physically. Both also face potentially the greatest hurdle in the history of their worlds; the White Walkers on one side, and footballs version of them on the other—Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are as close to an invincible and ruthless zombie army as the game has ever seen.
Since the two sides are in for a similar test in the coming months, let’s find out which ‘Game of Thrones’ storyline fits in with your favorite Raiders heading into 2017.
1 ) Derek Carr = Jon Snow
The ‘King in the North’ is a leader of men and toppled insurmountable odds to gain the respect of his fellow Northerners. A second round tumble in the draft and a broken leg aren’t quite as dire as the brutal stabbing that befell Snow, but you get the idea.
Both men are burdened with colossal expectations heading into the next chapter in their lives. Snow is expected to lead men in the fight against a zombie army that grows with each battle. Carr recently signed a lucrative contract and is expected to lead the Raiders back to the Super Bowl, which they haven’t reached in fifteen years. They’ll have to beat five-time Super Bowl champions in Brady and Belichick just to get there.
Good luck boys.
2) Kelechi Osemele = The Mountain
Osemele and Ser Gregore are both intimidating, Herculean forces that won’t hesitate to get their hands dirty. Osemele is a behemoth of a man and the biggest of the Raiders’ lineman at 6’5, 330 pounds. The Mountain’s exact size is never revealed in the show, but he could quite possibly be the largest living man in Martin’s made-up world.
Osemele was Pro Football Focus’ fifth ranked guard last season, allowing zero sacks on his overlord, Derek of House Carr. The Mountain’s timely resurrection in season five came just in time for Cersei of the House Lannister. She was never harmed again once the Mountain scooped her up following the walk of atonement she took in season five.
3) Amari Cooper = Greyworm
Cooper and Greyworm are both the strong, silent type who attack their craft with agility, precision and unrelenting preparation. The receiver and the commander have already proven their merit on the field, flashing tremendous ability in many battles thus far, but the true test has yet to come.
Cooper has put up an outstanding 2,223 yards and 11 touchdowns through his first two years, but has faltered over the second half of each season. Greyworm has freed many slaves, but also showed vulnerability against the masters in Mereen.
Can Cooper finally prove that his production can hold up down the stretch? Will Greyworm be able to lead the Unsullied against the great Lannister army and other western foes? Both young warriors have much to prove in the coming months.
4) Khalil Mack = Tormund Giantsbane
Giantsbane is a legendary wildling leader who has been at the forefront of many of the show’s pivotal battles. Mack is the leader of the Raiders’ defense and has proved his mettle time and time again over his first three seasons.
Giantsbane and Snow have a serious bromance going on in the show, just as Mack and Carr do in real life, so this comparison seems just.
Mack was awarded the DPOY last season and should be rewarded with a handsome new contract at some point. If Snow is able to lead the army of men past the White Walkers, Giantsbane will likely be rewarded for his loyalty and battle skills with a fertile plot of land and a healthy pouch of sheckles.
5) Karl Joseph = Arya Stark
To the show’s viewers, Stark has been arguably the most badass character of the first six seasons. To the people of the Seven Kingdoms however, she has flown under the radar and kept a low profile as a secret assassin. Joseph was a highborn first round draft pick himself, but injuries largely kept him out of the spotlight in his rookie year as he only finished with 60 tackles and one interception.
This season, both Stark and Joseph could surprise a lot of people. Neither has a domineering stature (Joseph is just 5’10, 207 pounds), but both possess enormous potential.
Stark will look to cross names off her list as she avenges her family, while Joseph will look to take down anybody in his path and reclaim the fearsome reputation he had as ‘The Hitman,’ at West Virginia.
6) Marshawn Lynch = Bronn
Lynch and Bronn have one huge commonality: They’re cleary both ‘bout that action.
Bronn was all set to ride off into the sunset in season five until Jamie Lannister lured him back into knighthood with promises of endless riches. Land and title is great and all, but let’s be honest, Bronn clearly missed the action above all else.
Lynch had hung up his knightly lime-green cleats before the allure of paydirt brought him back to the Bay Area. Both Bronn and Lynch showed their age over the past few years; the former was tossed into a Dornish prison and poisoned, while the latter averaged a pedestrian 3.8 yards per carry during his last season with the Seattle Seahawks.
Both should prove important in the last two seasons in Westeros and Oakland.
7) Reggie McKenzie = Littlefinger
Behind the scenes, both McKenzie and Littlefinger have been tirelessly making moves in their attempts to seize power. For McKenzie, that power takes shape in the form of the Lombardi trophy, while Baelish seeks a seat atop the Iron Throne.
Both are well known across the kingdoms, but the work they do behind closed doors is relatively unknown to the common man. They are prominent figues who have carved out enormous success for themselves and their houses.
Baelish rose from nothing to become the Lord Protector of the Vale, while McKenzie segued a relatively average playing career into a spot at the head of the Raiders family.
8) Jack Del Rio = Tyrion Lannister
Del Rio and Lannister are both famous for their wisdom and strategic output. Lannister led his people to victory at the Battle of Blackwater, but wasn’t given due credit. Del Rio was the linebackers coach for the Super Bowl Champion Ravens in 2000, but Brian Billick was the captain of the ship.
Both have a chance to shed their reputations as second-fiddle this season; Lannister by advising Daenerys en route to conquering Westeros, and Del Rio by claiming his first Super Bowl as a head coach.
As winter draws near for the houses of Stark, Lannister and Targaryen, so too does the end of another offseason program for the Raiders. The battles that lie ahead will determine the legacy of each who takes part in them.
All men must die, as all dynasties must. The Romans and the Greeks were met with tragedy, will the Patriots be next? To borrow a quote from the former king Robert Baratheon, “sitting a throne is a thousand times harder than winning one.”