What To Expect from the 2009 Oakland Raiders

Kenny OliverContributor IJune 22, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 19:  Darren McFadden #20 of the Oakland Raiders lines up for a play during the game against the New York Jets on October 19, 2008 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Every season I am hopeful that the Raiders will finally make the step and start playing like a team that belongs in the NFL. Like the rest of the Raider Nation, I have been disappointed year after year, failure after failure. As we approach the 2009 NFL season, we are again hopeful. Hopeful we can become the feared Raiders of the past.

This offseason has been much different then those we have witnessed the last four or five years. It seems as if Al Davis finally accepted that what he had been doing was not working. Weird Al did show up for the draft, but other than that he has had a very quiet offseason.

During this offseason we have added depth to the offensive line which should help us tremendously. With an improved offensive line the Raiders should be able run the ball quite effectively and that will take a lot of pressure off of JaMarcus Russell. If the O line performs well you can expect a lot of rushing yards from McFadden, Bush and Fargus.

A solid run game should give Russell the chance to throw the deep ball Al loves. Its possible you may see the Raiders relay team get deep often if the opposing safeties have to move up to help stop the run.

An improved O line should also help the Raider defense. When the Raiders offense struggles the Raiders defense gets exposed because they are on the field to long. If they can control the time of possession the Raider playmakers will be more capable of making crucial stops late in the game. If we were able to do that last year we could of won at least three more games. The recent signing of Ellis will greatly improve our run defense as well.

I am hopeful we can contend in the AFC West this season. Denver and KC are rebuilding and LT is finally looking mortal playing for San Diego. I think the Raiders can realistically win four of six from division opponents. If they can get five we may be able to get back to .500 this season. As a fan I would love to see them in the playoffs but the realist in me thinks a 7-9 season is what we are going to see.