Oakland Raiders Crystal Ball: Ten Non-Game Predictions
Lately, with sports news slow, a lot of people have been making predictions on the upcoming NFL season. Whether it be games, win-loss records, playoffs, whatever, everyone seems to have his or her say in what will happen.
Here I'll show you 10 of my non-game predictions for the Oakland Raiders' upcoming season and explain why I believe they will happen.
1. All three of the Raider running backs (Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, and Darren McFadden) will "start" at one point in the season.
The Raiders have three very talented backs. Fargas is the most likely to "start," as he has shown the most heart and is a veteran leader on the field. Fargas has had a somewhat injury-plagued career as of late and will likely miss a game.
McFadden also had an injury-plagued rookie year, and it has been said his toe (injured last year) is still bothering him and may not be fully healed. The third back, Bush, is also very talented and likely the most well-rounded of the three.
2. Johnnie Lee Higgins and Zach Miller both make the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Last year Higgins was snubbed out of a well-deserved Pro Bowl appearance after leading the league in punts returned to the house.
Miller is an up and coming star at tight end who is steadily improving, and with Tony Gonzalez and Kellen Winslow both now out of the AFC, his chances are very high.
3. At least one "deserving" Raider will be snubbed from the Pro Bowl.
It seems to happen every year. It just happened to Higgins, the year before it happened to Nnamdi Asomugha and Shane Lechler, and before that it happened to Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard when they led all linebackers in interceptions.
4. The Raiders are top five in rushing.
The year before last they were ranked sixth, and last year they were 10th, but they lost many players responsible for production in the ground game to injury (Oren O'Neal, Justin Griffith, and Jake Grove, as well as McFadden, who was limited due to turf toe, and Fargas, who missed a few games with minor injuries).
This year, with the additions of Khalif Barnes, Lorenzo Neal, and less injury-prone Samson Satele, the Raiders' ground game will be an impressive force with one of the most talented backfields in the league.
5. Sebastian Janikowski breaks the 63-yard field goal record.
He is often seen making 70-yarders for warmups and has arguably the strongest leg in the league. If Lance Kiffin has the audacity and confidence to try him from 76 yards in a game, there's no doubt in my mind he can hit it from 64.
6. The Raiders' passing offense, run defense, and time of possession all improve over last year.
These were three areas the Raiders were very weak in last year and were ultimately the cause of the Raiders' lack of production. They will improve through continuity and moves made this offseason to improve them. Also, because of the fact that they can't get much worse than they were, the only way to go is up.
7. Raider-bashing will be at an all-time high, regardless of win-loss record.
Lately the media seems to be having a field day at the Raiders' expense. Whether it be pundits criticizing our draft or predicting us last in the division with a 2-14 record, there seems to be a lot of negativity from the media directed at the Raiders.
It's even reached Comedy Central. I'm sure many of you have even seen the recent clip from the Colbert Report.
8. Before the 2009 season starts, the Raiders will make noise via trade or free agency.
It's no secret the Raiders still have a few holes in their offense. The Raiders even offered a handful and the No. 7 pick up for trade prior to the draft. Now there are rumors floating around that players like Derrick Burgess are being shopped around.
If the Raiders were to make a move in FA, there are still a good deal of linebackers available, as well as a handful of quality D-linemen.
9. JaMarcus Russell throws for 3,000 yards.
Labeled by many as a bust, he has been given all the tools he needs to succeed, but because the Raiders are a running team, he won't exceed this mark by much.
10. Tom Cable finishes the season and returns for 2010.
His players have confidence in him, as does Al Davis. Cable's team first mentality will bring the Raiders back to greatness.
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