Oakland Raiders: Playoffs? AFC Title?

george lopezCorrespondent IMay 13, 2009

The 2008 season was one most Raider fans would like to forget.  The first game of the season they were destroyed on National television.  Last year the Raiders had so many close loses.  In the buffalo game they lost by one point.  The Raiders had many games that they could have won. 

There record should have easily been 8-8 last season, but they couldn't finish at the end of games.  Darren McFadden and Jamarcus Russell were very streaky.  The last game of the season, against the Tampa Bay Bucs, they looked like a playoff team.  Michael Bush had the game of his life with 177 yards and a pair of touchdowns leading the Raiders to a victory over the playoff bound Bucs. Also, Mario Henderson looked like a starter.  This off season the Raiders have been very busy. 

There haven't really been any big named signings with the exception of Jeff Garcia.  The first thing the raiders did was released Ronald Curry, Kalimba Edwards, Gibril Wilson, Kwame Harris, and Justin Griffith.  These players were cancers to the team except Griffith.  Kwame Harris was a penalty magnet.  These players being released was a major positive for the future of all Raiders fans. After that, they signed Khalif Barnes and Erik Pears.  These two are great editions to a weak offensive line. 

If you watch their highlights you can see that they are both solid at protecting the quarterback.  If you watch the Raiders Last year,  you can see that Jamarcus was always being pressured.  This year he should have plenty time to make throws.  If he can't step up, Jeff Garcia will take his spot.  This year is crucial year for Russell.  The Raiders also picked up Lorenzo Neal. 

The most talked about subject in the off season was the draft and the surprising picks.  The most surprising being seventh overall pick Darrius Heyward-Bey.  Most Raider fans were very angry and so was I!  But then I watched him on YouTube a ouple of days later and realized, with players like him, Higgins, and Louis Murphy that the Raiders make one fast receiving core.  This pick will be talked about for a long time and him and crabtree will always be compared.  Mike Michell was the second round pick, this kid actually looks pretty promising.  Look for Mike and Bey to make an impact this year.

The question is: Can the Raiders make the playoffs or even win the AFC west?

Most people would say that this is a stretch, but I think the Raiders can win eight to nine games next year!  The Raiders have all the pieces to win at least nine games.   They finally got an offencive line, receivers, and a QB (just in case Russell plays bad).  I don't think this is a stretch at all.  The Raiders only competition in the division are the Chargers.  I believe the Raiders can beat them once out on two games. 

The Raiders have been the laughing stock of the NFL for about six years since the Super Bowl, and I think the Raiders are going to come out ready this year.  A lot of people are over looking the Raiders because we were only 5-11 but that could have easily been 8-8.  The Raiders have got a lot better.  The silver and black are back!