I fully expect we will see a full DJ breakdown now the final roster cuts have been made, but here are mine.
The Raiders seem to be everyone’s pick to be the third best team in the AFC, and pose a serious challenge to whomever drops off between the Pats and Steelers. Not hard to see why, as the Raiders were 8-2 when Derek Carr went down the first time, with wins over New Orleans, Baltimore and Denver and still were doing fine when he came back from a broken finger and a lot of zip off that fastball, then losing the wildcard when Carr broke his leg and the left tackle going down, as they just couldn’t pull any offense. Now with both back, can they deal with expectations?
Offense: Marshawn Lynch is back, and the Raiders might have a monster in there, as the Raiders offensive line is going to be better than his Seattle lines. The fun thing is the Raiders have monster wide receivers, Amari Cooper is a top guy, and looks like he dominates a game, but when you look at the stat line, he’s got like 4 catches. There is no reason for Cooper to not get 100 catches and double digit TDs. Michael Crabtree is the other guy, and while he is productive, he does still drop too many passes. The Raiders are next team to try and harness the monster talent of Cordarrelle Patterson. Watch for Jared Cook this year, he had flashes of greatness in Green Bay, I do wonder if he can be a releif valve for Carr moving forward.
Defense: Now the time has arrived that I have to remind everyone that I said Khalil Mack was going to be a beast. One of these years he’s going to get a tag team partner and then the Raiders D-Line is really going to be scary, as is, Mack is like having a Four Horseman group of Ric Flair, Mongo, Paul Roma and Dean Malenko.
Bruce Irvin came over from Seattle and had a solid year in Oakland, and is the only solid part of the second line. The Raiders have a bunch of talented or hardworking players on the other two spots. The problem is, they don’t have a lot of talented AND hardworking players. I’m not sure why the Raiders didn’t take a middle linebacker until the 5th round.
All that being said, the secondary is the weakest part of the defense, not really from a talent persepctive, but they do get caught out of position. Reggie Nelson went to the Pro Bowl, but leads by example more than leads in the lockerroom.
Special Teams: Janikowski is still living up to that first round pick status, but is starting to lose power in that leg, and Marquette King is as solid a punter as it gets. The coverage units were not bad, but a lot of the players have been replaced.
Overall: The Raider have a video game offense, and should have no problems making Al Davis smile no matter where he is. The defense has problems, and I wonder how much can be laid at the feet of the coaches. Mack can start anywhere in the NFL, and Bruce Irvin is rock solid, but of the other 5, who starts in Denver or Baltimore? The MLB position will get me nasty emails from DJ, I’m sure.
I’m giving Oakland 4 wins the division, and 2 wins vs the NFC East, as they get Dallas and the Giants late in the year at home. 3 wins in the AFC East, and play New England in Mexico before Thanksgiving, I have them splitting Baltimore(W) and Tenn (L) as the bonus games. Good enough for 10-6 and the third seed.
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