Oakland Raiders: Best- & Worst-Case Scenarios for 2012

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Believe it or not, despite all the turmoil they faced last season, the Oakland Raiders almost squeezed out a playoff berth in the crowded AFC West. Their 8-8 record was good for a three-way tie atop the division, with the Denver Broncos taking the title in a tie-breaker.

But it's a new year, and the fanbase in Oakland believes this is a playoff team under the direction of new general manager Reggie McKenzie and first-year head coach Dennis Allen. But are they really a contender?

Oakland returns talent on offense, as Carson Palmer had a full offseason to prepare for the year and the young speedsters at receiver are one year more developed. Just how good the offense is will hinge on Darren McFadden's availability after suffering a season-ending injury in 2011.

The defense should be nasty as always, but in a division that now features Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning, it may not be enough.

Bleacher Report's expert NFL panel takes a look at the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Oakland Raiders this year. Be sure to let us know your predictions in the comments.

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