Here are six long and short term predictions for the Raiders and the AFC West. Some may be wrong, but most will be right, and they all make sense.
Darrius Heyward-Bey will have a Pro Bowl season. Steve Corkran of the Contra Costa Times says he “fully expects” Heyward-Bey to surpass 1,000 yards, so I’m really only taking it a step farther.
By the way, when was the last time a Raider wide receiver was in the Pro Bowl?
After the season, Lamarr Houston will be considered the Raiders top defensive lineman. Why? Because of the two “drews.” He drew the second most holds in the league last season, and hired Drew Rosenhaus as his agent.
He means business.
Expect double-digit sacks from Houston in 2012. For what it’s worth, he is under contract through 2013, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the next two seasons will be without contract drama—especially now that Rosenhaus is calling the shots.
Michael Huff will end up with at least five interceptions. He has recorded three in his past two full seasons, and two last year despite missing four games.
Huff has been playing free safety for Oakland his entire career—arguably the most demanding job in football. No, free safety isn't the most demanding, but playing free safety for Al Davis was.
Huff was expected to be everywhere all the time. Under new head coach Dennis Allen, Huff will have more freedom to use his instincts and make more plays on the ball.
In 2009, under Gregg Williams and Dennis Allen in New Orleans, 34 year-old Darren Sharper recorded nine interceptions. His previous three years in Minnesota, he had a total of nine. If the system worked for Sharper, why can’t it work for Huff?
The Raiders will face Asante Samuel this season as a member of the Denver Broncos. The Broncos have already reportedly offered Philadelphia either a fifth- or sixth-round pick for him and Adam Schefter doesn’t think the Eagles can get more than a sixth round pick.
Samuel wants to be traded to someone who can win as well as pay him—Denver can do both. This one seems too easy.
Travis Goethel will be starting at linebacker when the season ends. He was contending for a starting job last season, but was placed on injured reserve before the season began. A full year later, his knee is expected to be fully healed, and the Raiders have as much instability at linebacker as ever.
The AFC West will bounce back from a rough 2011. Kansas City will finish ahead of Denver, and the Raiders will win the division if McFadden has a Pro Bowl season—that means he’ll have to stay healthy and thrive in the new zone blocking scheme.
The Chargers will finish in last place and fire Norv Turner during the regular season. San Diego general manager A.J. Smith will be fired after another fielding another underachieving team, but also for the embarrassment he caused the franchise by losing Michael Turner and Darren Sproles in their prime.
Oh, and the team’s new prodigy, Ryan Mathews? He’ll have twice as many fumbles as touchdowns. Maybe even a couple on opening night in Oakland—a game that the Raiders win 34-20.
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