The Oakland Raiders are official. When mentioning teams that could win the Super Bowl, the normal teams like the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers come to mind. However, some tend to think that the Raiders success in 2016 may have been a fluke. So not the case.
The Raiders are as legit of any of the teams mentioned above and may be more dangerous in 2017.
The Raiders hit the ground running 2016 with one of the league’s top offensives. However, it was their defense that left the team with a black eye most of the year. The Raiders are led by Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree on the offensive side. The offense is the heart and soul of this team but it’s the defense that will drive them to a championship.
In 2016 the Raiders finished 12-4 which put them way ahead of their scheduled rebirth into the NFL. Now, with the team coming off a successful campaign, the NFL Scheduling committee decided to bring the heat. But the question looms– will they be better than 2016 and if so– by how much?
My answer to that is– maybe undefeated better.
To begin with, the Raiders will play the Tennessee Titans, New York Jets, Washington Redskins, and the Denver Broncos. The Titans are much improved and will be a force to be reckoned with but the high-powered attack of the Raiders with newly signed Marshawn Lynch will make this a blowout by the 3rd quarter. The Redskins are no threat with half of their offensive weapons gone. The Jets are stuck between bad and terrible and the Broncos have QB issues that will have them trying to win games by scoring on defense.
Next up will be the Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills. The Ravens are up and down but they do not have the defense to contend with an offensive powerhouse like Oakland’s. The Chargers, if healthy could be a problem but with Oakland playing at home the defense led by Khalil Mack will give Philip Rivers fits all game. To end their 3-game homestand they will face their division rival, Chiefs who swept them last season. However, there is a big difference in stopping Latavius Murray than it will be containing the likes of Lynch. The Raiders will squeak out a close one at home. Off to Buffalo to take on the Bills in what could be a cold and snowy day. Which means run, run and more run on a weak Bills defense. The Bills have a great running game with LeSean McCoy, however, he doesn’t play defense.
Up next will be the Dolphins, Patriots, Broncos and New York Giants. The Dolphins will not be a pushover for any team this season. But do they have enough to contend with the bog boys? Ryan Tannehill is blossoming into a great QB but it’s not enough firepower to go point for point with Carr and Co. The Giants could cause another scare with their passing attack but a lack of a ground game will cause Eli into a few costly mistakes. The Patriots will be the test of the season for the Raiders. However, the good part is– they will be at home. This is the game many expected to see in last season’s AFC Championship Game but the injury to Carr derailed it. Both offenses can score but the Pats defense has the scheme that can stop the Raiders offense. This will come down to the Raiders new-look secondary and Mack. If they can keep Gronk in check the Raiders will send Tom Brady home with a loss.
The Raiders will hit the road for 3 of their last 4 games to end the regular season. However, only one of their matchups should be a hotly contested game. They will head to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs in what will sure be a revenge game after the Raiders beat them early in the year. We should expect more along the lines of the first outcome, but with a possible Division title on the line this game could get chippy early. If Carr cannot move the ball then expect a heavy dosage of Lynch to loosen up the defense and The Mack Attack on Alex Smith. A Cowboys matchup was one that I called for a Super Bowl last season and it still may hold true for this year. With the Raiders hosting the Cowboys, we should expect a shootout with the Raiders getting a slight edge when the clock strikes 00:00. The Raiders will end the season on the road with back-to-back games against the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chargers. Both teams will test the Raiders new defense and if they can get to the QB in then the Raiders will end the 2017 season with no blemishes on their record.
For the team to go undefeated it will take plenty of balls and calls going their way. The Raiders have one of the best offenses in the NFL and with an improved defense– how can 16-0 sound out of the question? Yes, Lynch will have to be in top form and Carr, Crabtree and Cooper will have to be dynamic but it can be done. The key is staying focused. One game at a time.
Any team winning 16 games straight is a stretch but the Raiders have the firepower, chip on their shoulders and the schedule to pull this off.
Just Win Baby.