The Raiders have a huge variance in their projected win total. A couple of injuries in the wrong spots on defense could really cripple this team. They have two solid starting cornerbacks in Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson, but after that they have a group of first and second year players and the recently acquired Lito Sheppard-who was a disaster last season for the Vikings.
Corner isn't the only depth concern on this squad. This team is thin at linebacker. Second year player Travis Goethel was lost to the season with a blown ACL. This has left the Raiders without a backup middle linebacker. The hope was also that Goethel could take over the weakside linebacking duties for the underwhelming Quentin Groves.
So, barring reasonable health in these positions...
The offense is showing signs of being able to carry this team. Jason Campbell looks more confident in the pocket and he is surrounded by weapons. Rookie Denarius Moore and veteran acquisition Derek Hagan add depth to a young and promising receiving corp. And this team is absolutely loaded in the backfield.
Darren McFadden, Michael Bush, Taiwan Jones and Marcel Reece form the most talented backfield in the league. If this offense gets some blocking they are going to succeed. And to that end, things are looking up.
The re-signing of center Samson Satele has allowed this team to move rookie Stefen Wisniewski to left guard. Also, Bruce Campbell has looked good early and should soon take over starting duties at right guard.
Best Game on the Schedule:
San Diego in Oakland, Week 17
These two played two fantastic games last season, and there is the possibility that this game could be for the division. Of course, there is the possibility that this game will be meaningless, but that is the nature of pegging a Week 17 contest as the must see event on the schedule.
Player Who Takes a Step Back This Year
Wimbley had a fantastic year rushing the passer last season. However, he only gets an opportunity to rush the passer on third down passing situations. The rest of the time he is playing linebacker and the Raiders almost never blitz their linebackers. It is hard to see him duplicating his sack numbers this season.
DE, Matt Shaughnessy - WR, Denarius Moore
Best Raider That Other Fans Don't Know About
DE, Matt Shaughnessy
Shaughnessy is a tremendous DE. He is solid against both the pass and the run. He is an every down player, and will be years to come.
Most Underrated Player
Most people around the league snickered when the Raiders gave Routt his large contract, but this guy has turned into a legit number one corner.
Fantasy Football Outlook
If Darren McFadden stays healthy, he is going to be a top ten fantasy producer. He has the complete package and the Raiders are committed to getting him the ball. If he gets hurt, Michael Bush instantly becomes a highly rated fantasy back.
Stay away from the passing game. The Raiders want to be a run first team. The one person to watch here is Jacoby Ford. The Raiders will try to find ways to get him as many touches as possible.
Definitely draft Sebastian Jankikowski. He is in top form and is hitting 64 yarders in practice and has drilled everything right down the middle in the preseason.
Best Media Personality
Jackson's energy is infectious. He speech is custom made for sound-bytes. He is personable and he never shies away from an interview.
Best Player to Follow on Twitter
Joe Barksdale @BazookaJoe72
Barksdale is always on Twitter. He is a down to earth guy, and he offers perspective of the life of an NFL rookie.