The AFC West has become a wide open division, where any team has a great shot at coming out on top and representing the division in the playoffs.
As they gear up for 2012 season with a new coaching staff and methodology, let’s take a look at what advantages this new Oakland Raiders organization has over each of their divisional foes.
Raider Advantage: New Head Coach Dennis Allen
September 30, 2012 @ Denver
December 6, 2012 @ Oakland
Oakland’s history against Manning has not been good; they have lost their past three match ups against Peyton. However, their most memorable match up may have been when former Raider Greg Biekert cunningly deciphered Peyton Manning’s audibles.
While Rolando McClain may not be as smart as Greg Biekert, the Raiders do have some tricks up their sleeves that Coach Allen can use.
On offense, Carson Palmer completed 19 passes for 332 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions against Denver when they last met in November. Denver's defense can be passed on effectively, as they gave up 232 passing yards a game in 2011 (ranked 18th) under then-defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. They also gave up 126.3 rushing yards (ranked 22nd).
Look for Coach Allen to use his knowledge of Denver’s defensive struggles, to focus on their defensive line and to take advantage of Oakland’s new zone blocking and West Coast offense.
Raider Advantage: Defensive Line
October 28, 2012 @ Kansas City
December 16, 2012 @ Oakland
Everybody seems to be high on Kansas City to win the AFC West. They definitely have powerful weapons on offense in running backs Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis.
Oakland defensive linemen Lamarr Houston, Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and Matt Shaughnessy are going to play a huge part in applying continuous pressure on Cassel. By staying hot on Cassel’s tail, he’ll either get sacked or hurry his throws to Dwayne Bowe, Jonathan Baldwin and Steve Breaston, resulting in incompletions or interceptions.
Get ready Matt Cassel, this Raider’s defensive line is coming at you!
Raider Advantage: Rushing Offense
September 10, 2012 @ Oakland
December 30, 2012 @ San Deigo
While Darren McFadden is an advantage in EVERY game, Oakland’s rushing attack takes the front seat in a battle with the Chargers!
When last they met, Darren McFadden was injured and Michael Bush ran roughshot through the San Diego defense, rushing 30 times for 157 yards and one TD.
Look for Oakland to run hard and often against the Chargers in 2012 with combo attacks from McFadden, Mike Goodson, Taiwan Jones and a mix Marcel Reece from underneath. The Raiders will rule the ground against the Chargers and bring home a “W”!