A Season Of What Can Be
The reader will look at the headline and wonder what that is about. Well, we all have ridden an elevator and at some point had someone ask us what button we need. You dont take the elevator if your only going to the second floor, right?
As with all fans from every team, we are optimistic about our teams chances of making the playoffs this year. Heck, with the way the Raiders have played in recent years an 8-8 or winning the division would be acceptable. For this writer it would be.
The intent of this article is to break down the season team by team and what the outcome will possibly be. So with that lets begin our voyage on what could be.
First game- San Diego- with the recent history of loss after loss to the Chargers the schedule maker wanted to start the Raiders out on a sour note. The Chargers are for some reason one of the NFLs golden children.
Sure, they will have a rejuvenated Shawn Merriman back. His return will most likely re-energize the entire defense, but how will their run defense fair against our tandem of Bush and McFadden?
I would grade this as break even, they gain at least 150 on the ground, but neither running back goes over 100 yards. I believe Bush will be a little hard for the Chargers defenders to handle.
Now lets flip the scenario. In the first meeting last year the Raider defense pretty much held LT in check for the first 50 minutes of the game, until he broke that run which resulted in a td.
But this year, I think wear and tear and our improved D will have caught up to #21. The dude is still scary, usually I have extreme hate for anyone of our division rivals, but have developed a respect for the guy. Raiders-27 Chargers-20
If the defense can stop LaDanian, the media will spin it as something on his part not that the Raiders defenders finally stopped him. The other part of the offense cannot be forgotten either. Outside of Gates none of the bolts receivers should instill fear into the Raider secondary.
But when the Raiders decide to pass, who will the Chargers put on who? Cromartie is only one man, if the Raiders receivers are progressing as reported then this could be a very long day for San Diegos defenders. Cover Z. Miller with a linebacker then in the 2 tight end set Myers will be free or one of the running backs if they go out.
One small storyline will be, who will step up in the receiving corp if Chaz Shilens is still recovering fom his ankle injury? Maybe Javon Walker shows why he was brought to Oakland and serves notice to all the cornerbacks that the Raiders will see this season.
This will be the game where the Raiders unleash several years of disgust at losing to the Chargers. Mitchell will make his presents known in this game. And the season will be off and rolling, with the Silver and Black serving notice to the other teams on the schedule!
Let's go ahead and award the team 2 more wins over the Chefs and then the Donkeys in week 3. Nothing about either team gives me much concern that they will be better than what they are. Matt Cassel oooohh a product of the Patriots system. Raiders-30 Chefs-10/ Run defense is impressive this game but it's only KC
Denver-please Orton is supposed to evoke the spirit of Elway? Haha! All the Broncos really have is Weapon X! And he is about used up from his days with the Eagles. Raiders 3-0 at this point. Raiders-28 Denver 17
Game 4 is cause for concern. This is a team that The Raiders should have a better record against, but it wasnt until last year that the Raiders got their first win against.
This could be a close game that whoever has the most breaks will end up winning. Well duhh Einstein! Come up with that on your own? Nope had to ask Madden. The Houston game will be very competitive.
Schaub to Andre Johnson or Slaton, their defense sacking Jamarcus or shutting down the run. But I think the Texans are susceptible to being exploited by the bigger backs (Bush). Raiders-17 Houston-13
Let's go over the other games that the Raiders should win. The games against the Jets, Cleveland and a sweep of KC. That puts the Raiders record at 6 wins. I know that I did not give a winner from the Texans game. That might be a win.
As the reader will notice four of my fence games are against teams from the NFC East. Out of the 4 at this point the Eagles give me the biggest cause to be concerned, and with the addition of Vick this is a game I intend to watch.
Imagine watching the Eagles on offense and they have on the field McNabb, Vick, Westbrook, DeSean Jackson, and Jeremy Maclin. That's 5 players for one football against 11 defenders. The math works out in the Raiders favor but it's not always that easy.
Defensively, this Eagles team does nothing for me, to many lost weapons and most importantly the loss of one of the greatest defensive minds the game has seen. Rest in peace Jim Johnson.....Eagles-24 Raiders-20
The Giants will be another tough game that I see as being winnable, but I am not completely convinced that our guys can bring it home. The G-men again have a formidable backfield including a pretty good signal caller. The big question is who will step up to catch Eli's passes.
The Giants have an above average front four, adequate linebackers, and an average secondary. The outcome of this game I believe hinges on the Raiders offensive line. Raiders-17 Giants-14
The next team to go over is the Cowboys. Throw out the preseason game, I know that I have this one as still being up in the air about, but I am really leaning towards the Raiders on this game.
The Cowboys running backs have my concern in this game, but hopefully at this point in the season we will know if the run defense has been fixed or is still anemic. Romo is not that great of a quarterback, shove him around early in the game and then the first 2 possessions after halftime and his confidence will be shot. Raiders 20 Cowboys 17
The Cowboys secondary is not that intimidating, they make plays but they dont have a "playmaker". Where the Cowboys defense excels is with the front 7, DeMarcus Ware, Keith Brooking and the others can create havoc for our blockers.
As with the game against the Giants, this one is on our line and the fullback making effective blocks. This is a game where I feel if the passing game is there The Raiders will win easily. Throw in several 4 receiver sets or totally catch them off guard by having 5 receivers out there or have McFadden move into one of the receiver positions from the backfield.
The game against Washington is one that I really want to see our guys beat up on! After DeAngelo Hall again unprovoked made unnecessary comments about his time with the Raiders.
The offense is not that good, Jason Campbell is one game away from intensive therapy, this guys ego and psche are so fragile. Campbell is so easily rattled. Stop Portis and you have shut down the Redskins offense.
On defense, there is Albert Haynesworth and Orakpo. Orakpo is a rookie and could up looking like a rookie or he could play like he knows what he's doing. Haynesworth-are his best days behind him or is he still the force to be reckoned with? Just about forgot LaRon Landry the only real hard hitter on this team.
The Redskins are essentially a team of free agents Daniel Snyder was willing to overpay to get them to Washington. I believe this is a game that our running game can take over and win. Blitz and rattle Campbells cage a few times and he's curled up on the sidelines with his security blanket and this ones in the bag. Raiders-24 Dedskins 13
The Bengals game somewhat has my attention. Why? They might be a team on the rise. Our best cover man will be all over Ochocinco like butter on pancakes. Their quarterback is severely underrated, due to the team he plays for. What hurts the offense is the running back position.
Cincinnati has not had a decent ball carrier since it let Cory Dillon escape. This is one of the games in which Marshall better unload on Palmer. Unleash his blitz packages to disrupt any time Carson goes back to pass.
The Bengals defense is what will keep this team in many games this year. Led by world traveler Dhani Jones and Tank Johnson along with rookie additions of Keith Rivers and Rey Muauluga.
They will be playing in Oakland, that is was is swaying me towards the Raiders winning. This is a beatable team, just cant beat ourselves. Raiders-28 Cincinnati-17
The final fence game I have is against Denver at their place. The Silver and Black have beat the Donkeys at their stadium in December several years ago, which makes me believe Our guys can do it again.
Denvers coach is no longer Shanarat so there goes another reason not to believe. At this point of the season who will be calling plays for Denver? Will it be Orton or will Chris Simms have taken his spot or Andrew Walters. No I dont have breaking news, but is it really that unlikely not to happen? Again Raiders-21 Denver-10
That now brings me to the teams that The Raiders may lose to. Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Baltimore. Remember I already have the Raiders losing to Philadelphia, but that's one that is too close to label as a sure win or loss.
It would be real easy to try to predict every game as a win, but then how could the reader take me seriously? And as the saying goes on any given Sunday.
It would be real easy to wish that The Raiders could sweep the Chargers, but winning one of two is a step in the right direction of breaking the hold they have over our team. There will be a big break in the Chargers favor in this game costing the Raiders the game.
The game against Pittsburgh as much as I hate to admit, most certainly will be one a loss. It takes place at Heinz field, giving them that advantage.
When the Steelers have the ball it's almost all about Roethlisberger and his targets. Take away Willie Parker and Rashard Mendenhall, but there is still that passing game. I'm not saying Big Ben is Peyton Manning but he is still a quarterback that can do some damage.
If the Raiders employ quit a bit of blitzes then the score can be closer than what I imagine, I'm not predicting a blowout by the Steelers but at least no more than a 9 point difference.
When the Raiders have the ball, the Steelers Defensive Co-ordinator is really going to challenge and pressure Jamarcus into making some plays that will have Raider fans wondering "what was he thinking"? J.R throws for no more than 175 yards in this game.
Our running backs wont fair much better, and it wont be because of a lack of effort by the line it will be because the Steelers will have a better game plan. Steelers-24 Raiders-17
That brings us to the last game of the season, which is against Baltimore. After about a decade or more of being in Baltimore the Ravens may finally have an offense! The defense has had a good run but they are getting old and this could be a last hurrah for the major players on that side of the ball.
In last years loss to the Ravens they uncovered a gem in Ray Rice. He was used quite a bit on screen plays, gashing the Raider defense for huge gains. And the former DC was shell shocked and could not stop Rice from taking over the game.
The Ravens dont have any receivers who strike fear into the secondary. Their best receiver retired and then due to a lack of playmakers at that position unretired almost two weeks later. Nnamdi and his partners should have no problem taking care of business during this game.
If John Marshall can fix the problems that have plagued the Raiders D for the last couple of years, this game will be about field position and won by field goals.
What about when the Raiders have the ball? Lorenzo Neal will earn his check by thwarting several attacks on his quarterback and paving the way for his backfield mates but the gains on the ground will be minimal. Bush will be the leading rusher this game with 75 yards.
Hopefully, Jamarcus remembered a few things from last years game against Baltimore and can find ways to exploit their secondary. The main player he has to stay away from is Ed Reed. Dont allow him to add to his interceptions total. Ravens-17 Raiders-9
That is the way I see the season going, although there are many unseen circumstances that arise during competition that change the outcome of a game. Is the Oline improved from previous versions? Will a receiver come close to 1000 yards or even 800 this year? Does Jamarcus Russell silence his critics by showing that he is a much better qb than he is given credit to be?
What about on the defensive side of the ball? Is John Marshall an upgrade over Rob Ryan and his wait and see defense? We already know that we have one of the best Cornerback tandems in the league, hopefully the safetys step up and give this team what it has'nt had in several years.
We will see in several weeks when the season kicks off, I believe that this year the Raiders take the division and making others forget what used to while showing what can be.
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