Monday, August 30, 2010

2010 Preview: Oakland Raiders

2009 Record: 5-11

2009 Rankings:
Total Offense - 31
Run Offense - 21
Pass Offense - 29
Scoring Offense - 31
Total Defense - 26
Run Defense - 29
Pass Defense - 7
Scoring Defense - 23

For a team that has made its mark by making boneheaded decisions in the offseason over the past decade, Oakland actually made some intelligent moves this year. Bringing in Jason Campbell from Washington to run the offense will be a huge improvement over the slacker Jamarcus Russell. Oakland's best receiver remains tight end Zach Miller. The wide receivers leave a lot to be desired, and the unit is still trying to bring last year's #1, Darius Heyward-Bey, up to NFL standards. To think, if Oakland had been smart and drafted Michael Crabtree, they might actually be considered a threat in this division.

The offense will have to live and die by the running game, which features two talented but injury-prone backs. Darren McFadden will enter the season as the #1 back, but he still hasn't shown the explosiveness that he displayed at Arkansas. Michael Bush is nursing an injury as we head into the season and is a bruising runner that could deliver big time behind the right O-line. Oakland's O-line still has holes and definitely needs some help, which they haven't given it recently in the draft. However, they're not the worst unit in the league either and do a decent job run-blocking.

On defense, Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the best corners in the league. The rest of Oakland's secondary isn't great, but with a shutdown guy like Asomugha on one side of the field, it really limits what plays the opposing offense can call. Richard Seymour, once he finally agreed to play football, was an absolute monster on the defensive line for the Raiders. With the addition of tackling machine Rolondo McClain (LB-Alabama) to the middle of the defense, the Raiders now have pieces to build around at all 3 levels of defense. 

At the end of the day, Oakland will probably fare much the same as they did last year. Four of their 5 wins came against teams that finished with .500 or better records (Philly, Cincy, Pittsburgh, Denver). However, they lost 3 games to teams who picked in the top 10 in the draft (Kansas City, Washington, Cleveland). Oakland has the talent to beat teams that are better than them, but also the lack of talent to blow games to teams that they should beat. As a Steelers fan, it pains me to say that Oakland might actually be good in a few years, but if they keep having offseasons like this one, a winning season might not be far away.

Ian's Prediction: 6-10

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