The Oakland Raiders have the talent to play meaningful games in December, but in order to this, though, they will need many of their players to have excellent seasons.
Reggie McKenzie has managed to get the Raiders under the cap, which was no easy task.
Unfortunately for McKenzie, the Raiders do not have many draft selections this year due to the old regime trading their first two selections away.
Oakland will need to depend on Carson Palmer to lead an explosive offense and hope their defense plays well enough to keep them in games.
For the first six weeks of the season, Darren McFadden was among the best backs in the league.
Unfortunately, foot injuries ended his season prematurely, but the stats that he racked up when healthy show how dangerous he can be.
McFadden averaged 5.4 yards per carry and broke free for runs of 20-plus yards eight times in just six games.
McFadden should also find the end zone more this season; his current career high is just seven in 2010. The departure of Michael Bush to the Chicago Bears should give McFadden more touches inside the red zone, which should yield more touchdowns.
The ex-Arkansas star is also a threat to catch the ball out of the back field, and his versatility will be giving defensive coordinators fits this season.
Don't be surprised to see McFadden put up about 1,800 yards from scrimmage in 2012 if he can stay healthy.
The health of McFadden will be tied very closely to the overall success of the Oakland Raiders in 2012.
Denarius Moore had a good rookie season last year for the Silver and Black. The former fifth-round pick has the ability to stretch the field, and Carson Palmer will be looking down-field for Moore all season.
Last season, Moore hauled in 33 passes for 618 and reached the end zone five times.
Moore has excellent speed, as he ran a 4.45 at the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine.
Moore's big play ability will be crucial if the Raiders want their passing game to flourish in 2012; he had five receptions of 40-plus yards.
Marcel Reece is already one of the best fullbacks in the NFL, which also happens to be one of the most underrated positions in the league.
Reece is an excellent blocker, and he consistently opens holes for the Raiders running backs. Darren McFadden and Michael Bush were the beneficiaries of Reece's blocking a season ago.
This University of Washington alumni was not selected in the 2008 draft, but you can bet that the Raiders are happy that they signed him.
Reece will also be a major threat inside the red zone. He is capable of making plays in the passing game and will not be easy to take down inside the opponent's 20-yard line.
The departure of Michael Bush will allow Reece to receive more touches inside the 5-yard line due to his 6'3", 240-pound frame.
Lamarr Houston has the chance to be a star in Oakland this season.
Last year, Houston forced a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
He has the explosiveness to become one of the best pass-rushers in the league, and the team will look to him to pressure the quarterback on third down this season.
Kamerion Wimbley has been cut, and Houston will be expected to fill the void left by Wimbley.
Houston is also formidable against the run, and this should allow him to be a three-down defensive end for the Raiders.
He has the chance to be one of most improved players in the league this season, and the Oakland Raiders defense need him to become a dominant pass-rusher.