It’s very difficult to find anything good to say about the Oakland Raiders. They haven’t made the playoffs since their run to the AFC title back in 2002. They haven’t even had a winning season in that timeframe. The 2012 season was their first under head coach Dennis Allen, and the 4-12 campaign did nothing to convince anyone that better days are ahead.
Oakland goes into the new season with a lot of uncertainty at quarterback. They signed Matt Flynn and he’s currently the favorite to start in Week 1. Flynn had two good games in fill-in duty for Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and parlayed that into a $17 million contract with Seattle prior to last season. Flynn was promptly beat out by Russell Wilson and now takes another crack at jump-starting his career.
The Raiders also have Terrelle Pryor, who will likely get his fair share of snaps. In neither case, should there be any great expectations. Oakland lacks real talent at wide receiver and their one genuinely talented skill player, running back Darren McFadden, can’t keep himself healthy.
This was also one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL last year, so there’s no relief to be found from the ground game. If nothing else, the Raider pass protection did rank well, so at least the quarterbacks will be kept upright amidst their incompetence.
Allen is a defensive coordinator by trade, but any expertise didn’t make its mark last year. The Raiders ranked 28th in the NFL in points allowed and they responded by bringing in a lot of new personnel. Pat Sims and Vance Walker are new defensive tackles and Mike Jenkins is new on one of the corners.
The most significant additions are bringing over Tracy Porter from Denver to play the other corner and signing strong safety Charles Woodson away from Green Bay and bringing him back to the Bay Area where his career began.
You would have to suspect that the new players will help Oakland at least become an average defense, but given all their offensive problems that won’t be nearly enough to make them a contender. Las Vegas is also skeptical, with the Raiders’ Over/Under win prop posted at a measly 5.
It makes it tough for TheSportsNotebook’s NFL analysis to go Under. I find it hard to believe that the defensive additions and the second year under a head coach won’t produce at least one additional win and match that number. So I’m going to go reluctantly Over, but there’s no way Oakland is going to even sniff the playoffs.