Oakland Raiders: 16 Bold Predictions for Darren McFadden in 2012

Daniel Mano Herberholz@danielmanoherbCorrespondent IMay 11, 2012

Oakland Raiders: 16 Bold Predictions for Darren McFadden in 2012

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    When Oakland Raiders running back Darren McFadden takes his first ever handoff from Carson Palmer, it'll be the start to a sensational season.

    Because McFadden suffered a Lisfranc injury in the first game after the Raiders traded for Palmer, the two haven't played together.

    That changes this fall, when CP3 will take the snap and give it to DMC. From there, the yards will rack up.

    Here is how each week will transpire for McFadden.

    You might say it's a bold prediction in itself that the tailback won't miss a big chunk of playing time if his foot malfunction acts up or he incurs another injury.

    Well, crazier things have happened. If he does indeed sit out games, act like those weeks' prediction don't exist. There, problem solved.

    Included in this slideshow is a quick scouting report of the opponent's defensive outlook.

Week 1: Oakland Raiders vs. San Diego Chargers

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    The last time Darren McFadden played against the San Diego Chargers, he was three yards away from the century mark.

    This time, he won't miss it.

    McFadden is ready and rarin' to go after missing nine games last season, and San Diego is as good a target as there is.

    Though the Chargers used their first three draft choices on defensive players, including first rounder D-end Melvin Ingram, they didn't do enough to shore up a bottom-half defense.

    San Diego only added two non-rookie free agents, in safety Atari Bigby and linebacker Jarret Johnson.

    DMC will have fun on some between-the-tackles runs, as Carson Palmer opens up the defense.

    DMC's line: 22 carries, 132 yards and 1 TD with two catches for 18 yards.

Week 2: Oakland Raiders at Miami Dolphins

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    A stellar return by Darren McFadden will be doused by a troubling matchup with the Miami Dolphins.

    Last year when the Oakland Raiders went to Miami, they could only tally two rushes of more than three yards.

    Of course, the Dolphins boasted the third-best rush defense in the league all season.

    Some changes have occurred in Miami, with a new offensive-minded head coach who drafted only one defensive player in the first five rounds and lost, among others, leading tackler Yeremiah Bell.

    But McFadden will struggle nonetheless, as he's only gained two yards in his career against the Dolphins. He will get more than that, however.

    DMC's line: 20 carries, 58 yards and two catches for 12 yards

Week 3: Oakland Raiders vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    A visit by the Pittsburgh Steelers will also hamper Darren McFadden.

    The Steelers dominate on defense, finishing in the top 10 in yards allowed every year since 2000, and last season was no exception.

    Only the San Francisco 49ers vaunted defense allowed fewer touchdowns on the ground.

    Fortunately, Carson Palmer will make Pittsburgh pay attention to the passing game as well.

    McFadden is a slippery fella, which will help him break a couple longer first-down runs on play-action. He won't be able to find the end zone, though.

    DMC's line: 16 carries, 74 yards with three catches for 20 yards

Week 4: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

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    What a breath of fresh air Darren McFadden will have at Mile High against the Denver Broncos—finally, another big game.

    The last three times McFadden has faced the Broncos, he's run all over them, with 165, 119 and 150 yards respectively, and he's averaged 7.48 yards per rush.

    It only helps that the new Oakland Raiders head coach was Denver's D-coordinator in 2011.

    Also, it can't hurt that the Broncos famously tilted toward offensive firepower with the signing of Peyton Manning.

    With Manning and Carson Palmer going toe-to-toe, McFadden will be the difference maker. One run will make it on the SportsCenter Top 10.

    DMC's line: 21 rushes, 198 yards and 2 TDs with five catches for 40 yards

Week 6: After Bye, Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons

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    Though the tailback hasn't faced the Atlanta Falcons before, Darren McFadden will make it back-to-back big games for the Oakland Raiders.

    The Falcons' run defense was in the middle of the pack last year.

    Atlanta did add cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Lofa Tatupu, but that won't stop McFadden from going off again, especially after the bye week. It also helps that leading tackler Curtis Loften left for the New Orleans Saints.

    Twice last year the Falcons gave up 74-yarders, and DMC will pull off his most spectacular run yet on a long touchdown.

    He'll also be instrumental in the win in other ways, snagging a couple outlet passes from Carson Palmer for crucial first downs.

    DMC's line: 18 carries, 145 yards with three catches for 42 yards

Week 7: Oakland Raiders vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Finally a team will stop Darren McFadden's streak, as the Jacksonville Jaguars won't let the Oakland Raiders running back embarrass them.

    Last time DMC played the Jaguars, in 2010, he did just that, racking up 209 yards and three touchdowns on 19 touches.

    But Jacksonville was much improved a year ago, going from 22nd in run defense to fourth in the league. The Jaguars also added cornerback Aaron Ross, and except for wideout Justin Blackmon and punter Bryan Angerpicked, the team picked defensive players in the draft.

    However the Jags did still allow a fair number of touchdowns last year, especially through the air. Carson Palmer should have a decent game, and connect with McFadden for a score.

    DMC's line: 18 carries, 78 yards with four catches for 32 yards and 1 TD

Week 8: Oakland Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs

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    Facing the Kansas City Chiefs will be revenge for Oakland Raiders tailback Darren McFadden.

    Last year an injury early in the Raiders-Chiefs contest sidelined DMC, who then missed the rest of the season.

    He'll be trying to make K.C., including former Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt, pay.

    Routt replaces four-year starter Brandon Carr, who left for the Dallas Cowboys, on what last year was the sixth best pass defense. The Chiefs aren't as good against the run, however, which they'll be trying to change with rookie D-lineman Dontari Poe.

    But McFadden will recreate the performance in Kansas City from his rookie year, when he gained 164 yards.

    DMC's line: 21 carries, 135 yards and 2 TDs with two catches for 17 yards

Week 9: Oakland Raiders vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Darren McFadden will reel off another two-straight 100-plus games on the ground, taking advantage of a weak Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense.

    The Bucs were the worst in the league on run defense, both for touchdowns allowed and yards allowed per carry.

    The weakness will allow McFadden to strike deep several times for pay dirt.

    Top draft choice Mark Barron and free agent signees Eric Wright and Amobi Okoye will certainly help, as will new head coach Greg Schiano.

    But facing the dynamic legs of DMC, Tampa Bay will yield a superb performance by McFadden.

    DMC's line: 25 carries, 189 yards and 2 TDs with four catches for 46 yards

Week 10: Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens

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    Yet again, Darren McFadden will follow two century mark games with a sub-par performance.

    This time it'll be because of the fierce defense of the Baltimore Ravens.

    Tied with the San Francisco 49ers for best run stoppage in the league last year, Baltimore is often great at making top tailbacks falter.

    McFadden indeed will both on carries and catches.

    Carson Palmer will put up a fight, but McFadden won't be a part of it.

    DMC's line: 13 carries, 36 yards and three catches for 14 yards

Week 11: Oakland Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints

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    A home game against the New Orleans Saints will allow Darren McFadden to bounce back.

    Though New Orleans will be closer to back to normal after the Bounty Gate scandal this offseason, it'll still be without leading linebacker Jonathan Vilma.

    Signing Curtis Lofton helps, but this team will be distracted all year.

    Regardless, the Saints had the second worst first-down percentage on run defense in 2011.

    McFadden should be able to crank out a couple doozies, electrifying the home crowd in an Oakland Raiders victory.

    DMC's line: 21 carries, 158 yards and 2 TDs with three catches for 27 yards

Week 12: Oakland Raiders at Cincinnati Bengals

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    Darren McFadden's long season will begin to wear on him, as he sputters against the Cincinnati Bengals.

    He'll have trouble, especially against a team that was top 10 on run defense a year ago.

    The Bengals beefed up their secondary, adding veterans Terence Newman and Jason Allen as well as first-round draftee Dre Kirkpatrick. Cincinnati also signed linebacker Manny Lawson and D-linemen Derrick Harvey and Jamaal Anderson.

    In other words, their defense should improve on an already above-average unit.

    McFadden won't able to find much ground, nor the end zone.

    DMC's line: 15 carries, 38 yards with two catches for 9 yards

Week 13: Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns

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    After a down week, Oakland Raiders tailback Darren McFadden will find his legs again against the Cleveland Browns, fresh and ready to rumble.

    DMC will kick it off with a surprising first quarter, covering most of the ground to the century mark.

    The Browns focused on offense in the draft, selecting a tailback, quarterback and tackle in the first 37 picks. That doesn't help a defense which ranked third worst on the rush last year.

    However, Cleveland did manage to allow just one 40-plus yard run and only 12 touchdowns, which means McFadden won't have many long bursts.

    He'll be able to punish the Browns, though.

    DMC's line: 25 carries, 123 yards and 1 TD with three catches for 27 yards

Week 14: Oakland Raiders vs. Denver Broncos

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    Again Darren McFadden will continue the tradition of burning the Denver Broncos.

    By now he'll have passed the century mark the past four times he's played the Broncos.

    Denver will undoubtedly be much less recognizable by former defensive coordinator and current Oakland Raiders head coach by Week 13, but DMC still won't have too much trouble.

    However, Peyton Manning will be in full swing by then, making Carson Palmer's passing attack more important for the Raiders.

    McFadden will break up the throws with some skillful runs around the edges and on play-actions.

    DMC's line: 16 carries, 102 yards and 1 TD with seven catches for 60 yards and 1 TD

Week 15: Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City

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    The Kansas City Chiefs will have an easier time with Darren McFadden in their second attempt to stop him.

    The tailback hasn't done well against the Chiefs except in his first trip to Kansas City.

    He's averaging just 3.62 yards per carry since that first matchup, only surpassing 40 yards on the ground once.

    The Oakland Raiders will be in a late-season battle for the division crown, but Carson Palmer will need to come up big this week.

    McFadden will, however, spurt a couple key first down runs.

    DMC's line: 16 carries, 58 yards with one catch for 8 yards

Week 16: Oakland Raiders at Carolina Panthers

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    Hot in the playoff hunt when the Oakland Raiders travel to Carolina, Darren McFadden plays a big role in their chances.

    It's not a bad sign that the Carolina Panthers ranked 25th in run defense last year.

    The team did draft for defense, particularly with its first-round selection of linebacker Luke Kuechly.

    But DMC will have one more 100 yard game in him.

    Though he won't be as explosive as other times in 2012, McFadden will get the job done.

    DMC's line: 24 carries, 101 yards and 1 TD with four catches for 22 yards

Week 17: Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers

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    This time against the San Diego Chargers, the Oakland Raiders will need Darren McFadden more than ever since a playoff slot may be on the line.

    Both teams will now have had to time to mature their chemistry and game-planning

    Thus, DMC might not be as successful as the first game of the season.

    He'll still jolt a few scrambles around the edges, but a tired Raiders O-line won't open as many holes on the inside.

    However, McFadden will remain a factor with his pass-catching.

    DMC's line: 18 carries, 73 yards with six catches for 85 yards and 1 TD

Adding It All Up for Darren McFadden

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    For those of you keeping track, Darren McFadden will have a truly breakout year for the Oakland Raiders.

    As I have it counted, his 1,698 yards will likely lead the NFL.

    In his first full season of being healthy, McFadden will finally eclipse the 300-carry mark (309 to be precise).

    DMC will also tally a career-best 53 receptions, totaling 479 yards.