The upcoming Chinese New Year will be classified as the "Year of the Snake," ans members of the Oakland faithful aren't about to dispute that point with their Oriental neighbors. The reference, of course, is to Raider quarterback Ken Stabler.

He will be one of the keys that could open the door to a world championship Sunday in Pasadena. His offensive line's ability to watch its masterful performance in the Pittsburgh game is another factor, as is the ability of the defense to contain the Vikings' Fran Tarkenton-Chuck Foreman battery.

In upsetting the Steelers, Stabler never used Fred Biletnikoff, a tactic which seemed to befuddle the Pittsburgh defense. John Madden's greatest concern at this point is to maintain the peak his club achieved in that conference title encounter.

Bud Grant will have no problem getting his charges up. Many of his starters have experienced three unsuccessful chases of the coveted prize, and they don't expect many more opportunities.

Being on the West Coast will work to the Raiders' advantage. And it should not be forgotten that the AFC has won seven of eight Super Bowls since the New York Jets broke the ice in 1969. If Confucius were to comment on this contest, he might say: "In Year of Snake, Oakland by 4."